Security Council concludes South Sudan visit
13 August 2014 - UN Security Council’s discussions with President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar had been “rather disappointing” at times, Council President Mark Lyall Grant said in Juba today.
“We did not hear much from them that gave us hope that there would be rapid agreement in the talks in Addis Ababa,” said the UK Ambassador to the UN. “Both said they recognized there was no military solution to the crisis, but the two positions remain far apart.”
Mr. Grant said the Council and international community, who helped South Sudan achieve independence, had hoped to see the country building on peace and stability three years later.
“Instead, what we see is a failure of leadership … mass killings, a humanitarian crisis and some appalling conditions for the ordinary people,” he said.
“Frankly the Security Council is annoyed and angry at what has happened and we underlined a very strong message that there would be consequences for those who try to undermine the peace process, and are not willing to put aside their personal agendas in the interest of their people.”
Council members, who left South Sudan today, held direct talks with President Kiir and also spoke to former Vice-President Machar through video teleconference during their visit.
Mr. Grant described meetings with internally displaced people (IDPs) at the UNMISS base in the Upper Nile State capital Malakal and civil society representatives in Juba, as “very emotional”. He noted that every ordinary South Sudanese person they met said they only wanted peace.
US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power reiterated the need for both leaders to put together a transitional authority that would help begin a long process of reconciliation.
In discussions with Mr. Machar, she noted the Security Council had emphasized that it was incumbent on him to denounce, investigate and punish anyone who carried out atrocities.
“Irrespective of the grievances that brought us to this point … it is unacceptable for civilians to be endangered in the way that they have been,” said Ms. Power. “He said there has been some progress in an investigation into the horrors that happened in (the Unity State capital) Bentiu. We need to follow up on that and make sure that that is the case.”
Describing the South Sudanese as “some of the most resilient people that the world has ever seen”, she decried continued fighting, especially with the risk of famine and a humanitarian catastrophe.
“The United Nations is here. We, the Security Council, have come to support their efforts to protect civilians and to get food to the hungry,” she said. “I was very honoured to be here at the same time President (Barrack) Obama announced another $180 million in food assistance for the people of South Sudan.”
Luxembourg’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Olivier Maes said the issue of child soldiers was particularly important for his country, which chairs the council’s Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict.
“We still have children recruited or used in the armed conflict here,” he said. “It was important for us to address that point in our discussions with President Kiir and Riek Machar to urge them to implement the commitments they have taken to end the use of children in armed conflict.”
He also said UNMISS was doing a terrific job to accommodate a very high number of IDPs, but stressed that it is not a sustainable solution.
The Security Council is expected to meet Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) ministers in Nairobi today to discuss the way forward, Mr. Grant said.
“The Security Council strongly supports the IGAD led peace process. A number of cessation of hostility agreements have been reached … and not been adhered and we would want to discuss what the next steps are with the IGAD ministers,” he said.