FOR IMEDIATE RELEASE
The United States condemns the outrageous and deliberate targeting of civilians in South Sudan. The "Cessation of Hostilities" agreement signed three months ago appears to have been treated more like a commitment to sustain hostilities. Civilians are being repeatedly and deliberately targeted based on their ethnicity. Over the last week alone, there has been an attack on a UN compound in Bor and the massacre of hundreds of civilians in Bentiu, including children, women and men who had sought refuge from the violence in a Mosque and a local hospital. The world’s newest state is clearly on a precipice.
South Sudan’s leaders must take immediate steps to end the violence and participate in political talks to resolve the conflict. Failure to take bold action now very well could push South Sudan into a cycle of retaliatory ethnic killing, a deepening civil war, and an even more devastating humanitarian catastrophe.
The United States strongly supports the critical work of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and calls on the Government of South Sudan to stop interfering with UNMISS's ability to carry out its mandate to protect civilians and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance. The Government of South Sudan should condemn publicly all attacks on the UN and work far harder to stop them.
The targeting of civilians seeking refuge – whether on a UN compound or in a mosque – is a criminal act. We call on the Government of South Sudan and opposition leaders to hold those responsible to account. Further, reports of the use of radio broadcasts to incite sexual violence and other ethnically-motivated attacks are particularly chilling and a cause of deep concern. The Security Council must take action against those who continue to undermine peace efforts and swiftly create a sanctions regime targeting spoilers of the peace process and those responsible for atrocities.
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