Addis Ababa, 22 April 2014: The Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU), Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, is deeply concerned at the continued deterioration of the security and humanitarian situation in South Sudan. In this respect, she strongly condemns the deliberate and criminal attack on civilians in Bentiu, Unity State, on 15 April 2014, where over 200 civilians were reportedly killed and more than 400 wounded while sheltering in a Mosque. This dastardly act was followed by another attack on civilians who were under the protection of peacekeepers in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) camp in Bor, Jonglei State, on 17 April 2014, during which over 40 people were killed and many others were wounded.
This tragedy is all the more shocking as it came amid efforts by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to facilitate the implementation of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement that was signed by the Government of the Republic of South Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A - in opposition), on 23 January 2014.
The Chairperson of the Commission would like to remind both the Government and the SPLM/A (in opposition) of their responsibility to fully abide by the Agreements they signed and their obligation regarding the protection of all civilians, including those who are under the protection of the UN. She urges both parties to fully cooperate with the IGAD-led Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (MVM), in order to investigate these attacks and to bring their perpetrators to justice.
The Chairperson of the Commission strongly urges both parties to the conflict in South Sudan to take seriously the upcoming political negotiations to resolve their dispute and fully cooperate with IGAD to facilitate the early completion of the deployment of the Monitoring and Verification Teams (MVTs), so as to avoid such similar tragedies in the future.
Finally, the Chairperson of the Commission reiterates AU’s continued support to the IGAD efforts aimed at finding a comprehensive and lasting solution to the conflict in South Sudan.