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South Sudan’s ceasefire monitors condemn attack on staff

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- The Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM) said the government should adhere to the necessity of the revitalized agreement to end five years of conflict.

“CTSAMVM condemns in the strongest terms the appalling attack that took place on Dec. 18, 2018 on its monitoring and verification team in the Luri area,” the monitoring agency said in a statement.

It revealed that it had launched a full investigation into the events in which coalition government security forces assaulted and illegally detained senior ranking male and female officers, including support staff from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an eight-member regional bloc.

“Attack on monitoring personnel and interference with the performance of their duties are strictly prohibited and must be prevented from recurring,” said the monitoring body.

It appealed to the South Sudan government to immediately conduct an investigation, hold perpetrators accountable for these despicable acts and their chain of command responsible for its leadership failure.

“CTSAMVM has a legal right to be present in South Sudan, and all the parties to the agreement have an obligation to facilitate the work of the monitoring mechanism,” said the monitoring body.

It reiterated its obligation to freely monitor the implementation of the revitalized agreement on the resolution of the conflict in South Sudan.



Sexual violence used as weapon of war in South Sudan: UN

UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) -- Sexual violence has been used as a weapon of war by all the parties of the South Sudan conflict, a United Nations (UN) envoy told the Security Council Tuesday, noting a significant increase of perpetrations this year.

Pramila Patten, the UN secretary-general’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, said the UN has witnessed systematic patterns of sexual violence since 2013 when the conflict started in South Sudan, but the phenomenon “escalated dramatically” this year.

“In 2018, there has been a clear and alarming increase in the number of cases and victims of conflict-related sexual violence documented,” she said, adding that the number of victims has already reached 1,157, the highest recorded in the last three years.

First-hand testimony Patten heard indicated that rape was used by the attackers “to exercise power over their victims, impose extreme humiliation, destroy their dignity, and fracture families and the community.”

Most notably, Patten pointed to the reports of mass rapes in Bentiu in November, where some 125 women and girls were reportedly raped, whipped and clubbed over 10 days while heading to a food distribution site.

The UN team on the ground and the local authorities have both launched investigations into this matter, according to Patten.

In a separate incident in October, 43 cases of rape or gang rape and the abduction of 505 women and 63 girls for the purpose of sexual slavery in Western Equatoria region were documented, she said. Patten added that sexual abuse would reportedly cease only when abducted women become fighters.

Among the incidents Patten cited to the Security Council, the alleged perpetrators are from both the government troops and the opposition forces.

Patten said that, although the South Sudanese officials she met with reiterated that the violations are unacceptable, “the fact is that it is still largely ‘cost-free’ to rape in South Sudan.”

Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the UN peacekeeping chief who spoke to the Security Council before Patten, condemned “in the strongest terms” the continued prevalence of sexual violence and called on the South Sudanese parties to bring all those responsible to justice.

Lacroix appealed to the international community to “pronounce itself and remind the parties that with such prevalent impunity, South Sudan would not be able to find a respectable place among the community of nations.”

Moreover, Patten urged the Security Council to apply sanctions for sexual violence crimes as a critical aspect of deterrence and prevention.

Patten said her office, together with the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, submitted on Monday the names of three alleged perpetrators of a July incident in southern Unity state to the South Sudan sanctions committee of the council for its consideration.

Patten further called for comprehensive services to be provided for the survivors of sexual violence, particularly medical and psychosocial care, and for conflict-related sexual violence to be addressed as a central aspect of the revitalized peace agreement signed between the government and the opposition in September.


China calls for international help with South Sudan’s peace process

UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) -- A Chinese envoy on Tuesday called for international help to push forward the peace process in South Sudan.

After prolonged conflicts, a lot needs to be done, said Wu Haitao, China’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, adding that the implementation of the September 2018 revitalized peace agreement and the relaunch of economic development need enormous funding and other forms of support.

In addition, the international community should step up humanitarian assistance and economic support to South Sudan, he told the Security Council.

He asked to preserve the political will of the South Sudanese parties in advancing the peace process.

The international community should fully respect South Sudan’s leadership in dealing with its own issues and avoid the imposition of solutions, said Wu.

Meanwhile, the international community should continue to support the mediation efforts of regional organizations such as the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, and focus on helping South Sudanese parties build mutual trust, honor their commitments and achieve a full cessation of hostilities, said Wu.

China agrees with UN Secretary-General’s proposal that the establishment of transitional security arrangements and the formation of a transitional government are matters of priority, he said.

The international community and the Security Council should be fully aware of the complexity of the South Sudan issue and provide constructive assistance to the country in addressing difficulties on the ground, he said.

It has been China’s consistent position that sanctions are a means, not the end, he said. “The Security Council should be prudent in the use of sanctions to make sure that measures taken are helpful to the political settlement of the South Sudan issue.”

The Security Council in July imposed an arms embargo on South Sudan in addition to existing sanctions—a travel ban and asset freeze against designated individuals and entities.

Wu said China has always supported South Sudan’s peace and development. China will, as always, be an active supporter and constructive participant in the South Sudan peace process and play a constructive role in the realization of lasting peace and sustainable development in the country, he said.


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