- António Guterres (Photo Reuters/ Denis Balibouse)
September 14, 2021 (JUBA) – The slow pace of implementation of the Revitalized Agreement on Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS], including measures related to the transitional security arrangements, is an obstacle to consolidating peace, the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said Tuesday.
His statement is contained in a report on South Sudan presented to the UN Security Council.
Guterres, specifically cited lack of overall progress in achieving agreed benchmarks, saying it has contributed to fractures within SPLM/A-IO and subsequent clashes between warring factions.
Last month, clashes occurred in Magenis in Upper Nile region, between forces loyal to First Vice President Riek Machar and those backing the SPLM/A-IO former chief of general staff, First Lieutenant General Simon Gatwech Dual.
The clashes erupted just days after rival military leaders of the SPLM/A-IO announced that Machar had been ousted as head of his party and its armed forces and replaced with Dual.
“I call upon the factions involved to resolve their differences through dialogue and to avoid actions that would be detrimental to the peace process. I also request the parties to refrain from encouraging defections and supporting defectors,” said Guterres.
“South Sudan cannot risk eroding the peace gains achieved thus far,” he added.
South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 but descended into fighting two years later when forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and to Machar clashed in the capital, Juba.
The civil war, which ended with a peace deal signed in September 2018, killed over 400,000 people and displaced more than 2 million people.
The Secretary General commended the recent decision of the presidency to immediately unify the command of the forces and graduate the Necessary Unified Forces.
“This decision, which is now behind schedule, should be fully and promptly implemented, and I confirm the continued support of the United Nations to this effort,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, Guterres expressed concern over the “dire” humanitarian situation in the East African nation, citing the displacements of people triggered by localized violence, extreme weather as well as livelihood pressures.
Approximately 7.2 million people are estimated to face high levels of food insecurity, with 108,000 people facing catastrophic levels of hunger, according to the UN.
The top UN official’s report also highlighted the persistent cases of conflict-related sexual violence and other serious human rights violations, blamed on “pervasive impunity”, “lack of accountability” and “rule of law deficits”.
“The Government should take the necessary steps to ensure a safe and secure environment in order for humanitarian partners to deliver life-saving goods and services. These acts of criminality and violence must stop,” he remarked.
Guterres, however, said the UN stands alongside the coalition government in supporting initiatives that promote durable peace and ensure perpetrators of violence are brought to justice.