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UN calls on South Sudan to stop impeding its peacekeepers

President of South Sudan Salva Kiir PHOTO: AFP/Charles Atiki Lomodong

The UN Security Council on Thursday called on the government of South Sudan to “cease obstructions” to its peacekeeping mission’s operations and urged all sides to stop the fighting.

Egypt’s envoy to the world body Amr Abdellatif Aboulatta, who currently holds the council’s rotating presidency, told reporters that council members had also asked all parties to the conflict to put a halt to “offensive operations.”

“The members of the Security Council condemned the recent fighting in Pagak,” a major rebel stronghold, the Egyptian diplomat said.

“They demanded the government cease obstructions to UNMISS (UN Mission in South Sudan) and deployment of its Regional Protection Force, and noted that the recent suspension of flight clearances affected UNMISS operations,” he said.

“The members of the Security Council reminded all parties that the obstruction of activities of international peacekeeping may be subject to sanctions” under UN resolutions, he added.

UNMISS is more than 13,000 strong, including peacekeepers, police and civilians.

During their meeting, the 15 council members also expressed “deep concern at the continuous rise in humanitarian access incidents” and demanded that all parties to the conflict stop blocking aid from getting through.

South Sudan’s civil war erupted in December 2013 just two years after it obtained independence from Sudan, when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup.

The conflict initially pitted Machar’s ethnic Nuer against Kiir’s Dinka, but since the collapse of a peace agreement in 2015, the war has engulfed other ethnic groups and been spurred by local grievances.

Thousands of people have been killed by the violence, which plunged part of the country into famine earlier this year. Some four million have been displaced, according to UN figures.

The United States has repeatedly called for an arms embargo on South Sudan, and one UN diplomat said that drive could eventually be put on the council’s agenda, as the UN grows increasingly exasperated with the spiral of violence.

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