The warring parties in South Sudan have been urged by the most senior UN official in the country to show restraint in the face of an escalation in violence and remember their responsibility towards protecting civilians from conflict.
Fresh fighting has broken out between government SPLA and opposition forces in a number of locations including Raga in the west of South Sudan, Waat in Jonglei to the east and in the area of Wunkur and Tonga in the northern Upper Nile region.
It follows recent fighting in Pajok, and a week ago in Wau town and the surrounding area which led to the displacement of thousands of people.
The Protection of Civilians site adjacent to the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) base in Wau has received some 13,500 people who fled their homes due to the violence, which brings the number of internally displaced persons seeking protection in the site adjacent to the UNMISS base in Wau to 38,746. Around 3,000 others sought sanctuary at other non-UN compounds.
The acting Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Moustapha Soumaré urged all parties to the conflict to cease fighting: “During this holy celebration of Easter, which for many symbolises reconciliation and the rebirth of hope, I call on all parties to prove their commitment to peace. They must show restraint and demonstrate their responsibility to ensure the sanctity of life of all South Sudanese citizens.”
UNMISS continues to push for access to areas affected by the conflict. Despite the challenges in reaching some parts of the country, the Mission has successfully deployed a number of peacekeeping patrols to deter violence and protect civilians. UNMISS is also monitoring any human rights abuses as a part of its mandate.
“The warring parties must know that there can only be peace through a political solution,” said Mr Soumaré. “They must once and for all silence the guns, return to dialogue, reconcile their differences and bring the peace the South Sudanese people want and deserve.”