8 April 2014 - The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights arrived in Juba today in the wake of recent killings of civilians in the Unity State capital Bentiu and the Jonglei State capital Bor.
Navi Pillay, who is on a joint mission with Adama Dieng, the UN's special envoy for the prevention of genocide, said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is very concerned about events in South Sudan.
“We think the situation is very grave and that there might be revenge killings,” she said. “When two elephants fight it’s the grass that suffers. I see civilians, ordinary people, who are suffering from huge human rights violations from rights to food, sexual violence and so on.”
Ms. Pillay, who met with South Sudanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Barnaba Marial Benjamin, said she had asked him to do his best to restore security so that displaced people would be able to return to their homes, particularly in time for the planting season.
“We hope that the cessation of hostilities agreement will be respected by both parties,” she said. “That’s the immediate concern – people do not feel safe.”
Mr. Benjamin said he was delighted by the visit, which he said was very welcome.
“We will share ideas in order to improve the situation, put an end to killings and improve the human rights situation,” he said.
He also noted that there is still a great need for humanitarian assistance to South Sudanese people, even when they are able to return to their homes.
“A multi-prong approach to this crisis is important,” said Mr. Benjamin.
A statement issued by the current President of the Security Council on 23 April requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to immediately undertake an investigation mission focused on events in Bentiu. Council members also asked for UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Šimonović, to return to South Sudan as soon as possible to assess recent developments and report back to the Security Council.
“Members of the UN Security Council today expressed their readiness to consider appropriate measures against those responsible for human rights violations and abuses in South Sudan,” the statement said. “They indicated their willingness to take additional measures should attacks on civilians and violations of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement continue.”
The statement also noted that Security Council members welcomed the UNMISS human rights division’s investigation of these events and the African Union Commission of Inquiry’s first mission currently under way in South Sudan.