In an appeal broadcast in South Sudan on Wednesday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon renewed his call on its leaders to settle their differences peacefully and pledged to help end the violence that has wracked the world’s youngest nation over the past 10 days.
“I want to assure you that the United Nations stands with the people of South Sudan at this difficult time,” Mr. Ban said in his radio/video message.
Escalating violence has led to hundreds of deaths and the displacement of over 80,000 people in the country, which gained its independence two years ago after seceding from Sudan. The conflict has been increasingly marked by reports of ethnically targeted violence.
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“We know many of you are suffering from horrific attacks. Families are fleeing their homes. Many of you have lost loved ones and are grieving. Innocent civilians are being targeted because of their ethnicity. This is a grave violation of human rights,” said Mr. Ban (pictured above).
“South Sudan is under threat — but South Sudan is not alone,” he stressed.
Mr. Ban called on the country’s leaders to settle their differences peacefully and underscored their responsibility to protect civilians. “I have warned all responsible for crimes that they will be held accountable.”
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Meanwhile, the Security Council, acting on Mr. Ban’s recommendations, increased the troop strength of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), which has been sheltering some 45,000 civilians who have fled to its peacekeeping compounds for protection.
In a unanimously adopted resolution, the Council authorized a temporary increase of 5,500 more troops and 440 more police, as well as critical aviation assets to boost the capacity of the Mission which currently has some 7,000 personnel.
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Mr. Ban has noted that even with ongoing support, the strengthening of UNMISS’ protection capabilities will not happen overnight.
“Even with additional capabilities, we will not be able to protect every civilian in need in South Sudan,” he stated after the Council’s action. “The parties are responsible to end the conflict.”
Photo courtesy: UN