South Sudan

Remarks by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon at press conference prior to departure from South Sudan UNMISS Compound, Juba, 6 May 2014

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SG: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for your patience.

It is less than three years since I was here to celebrate the independence of South Sudan.

The air was full of joy and hope and excitement at that time. The birth of this new nation had widespread international support and goodwill. All wanted it to succeed.

The people of Sudan had suffered for too long and fought so hard for freedom. They deserved a better future. Peace, prosperity and human rights.

Today, these dreams lie in gathering ruins.

The conflict destroying this fragile young country is senseless. What I have seen and heard today breaks my heart and enrages my soul. People should not have to live in such conditions, fearing for their lives.

I am proud of the courage shown by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan. By opening our gates around the country we have saved tens of thousands of lives.

But the country should never have been allowed to fall so far.

I urge the country’s political leaders to put aside their grievances and end the bloodshed immediately. I commend moves in the past days to initiate reconciliation.

I met today with President Salva Kiir and I will speak on the phone with the former Vice-President Riek Machar. In fact, I was scheduled to speak just a few minutes ago but the line was cut off all the time and I was not able to speak. That is why you had to wait. I feel sorry for that and thank you for your patience but I will continue to speak with him before my departure.

My message for both leaders is simple and clear: That both leaders should work together for peace.
In that regard, I am encouraged that President Salva Kiir today announced publicly, while standing at my side, that he will meet with Dr. Machar soon in Addis Ababa.

Both sides must accelerate inclusive dialogue and find a resolution quickly. Continued fighting will not lead to a solution. It will simply bring more violence and suffering.

More than a million people have been displaced. Nearly 5 million need humanitarian assistance. Unless action is taken now, up to a million people could face famine in a matter of months.

We need thirty days of tranquillity. People need to be able to go back to their land and plant their crops in peace.

The fighting must end.

Much damage has already been done. It may take long to heal.

The country’s leaders must close the wounds they have opened. They must support justice and accountability for crimes committed. And they must act to address the root causes of the conflict.
That will take courage and wisdom and statesmanship.

The United Nations and our regional partners stand ready to assist this nation’s recovery, stability and progress. [In local Arabic] I am here as your friend. I will tell your story to the world. Thank you. [end portion in local Arabic]

Thank you.