Photo by: Reuters
The UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) has warned that should South Sudan President Salva Kiir hold elections before he accepts peacekeepers, a ceasefire and political opposition, the country’s war will only worsen, Reuters reported on Thursday.
“It’s just a story of absolutely unimaginable cruelty,” Yasmin Sooka, head of the UNCHR in South Sudan, told a news conference in Geneva on Wednesday.
Juba has been reluctant to accept the full deployment of a 4 000-strong regional force, to complement the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) already stationed there, as requested a year ago by the East African block IGAD and backed by the UN.
Following intense regional and international pressure Kiir’s government eventually agreed to the deployment.
However, the full deployment has faced obstacles, with Kiir accusing the UN of meddling in the sovereignty of the world’s newest country and behaving beyond its mandate.
The UN believes that even if the full UN force is deployed to the capital Juba only, it would enable UN peacekeepers to move further afield and help enforce a ceasefire that the opposition, with no military supply lines, would accept.
A civil war erupted in 2013 after Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar – who is also the leader-in-exile of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) – were unable to bridge their political differences to ensure the establishment of an agreed upon unity government.
The subsequent fighting killed up to 300 000 people according to the African Union.
Millions more have fled and face the possibility of famine.