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UN Blames Uganda, Kenya for Fueling Conflict in South Sudan

FILE - Rebel troops of the Sudan People's Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) unload their weapons at their military site in Juba, April 25, 2016.
FILE - Rebel troops of the Sudan People's Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) unload their weapons at their military site in Juba, April 25, 2016.

A U.N. official has intensified the call for an end to violence in South Sudan, following sustained diplomatic pressure from the African Union on South Sudanese leaders.

Adama Dieng is the U.N. secretary-general's special adviser for the prevention of genocide. He told VOA's South Sudan in Focus program Monday that Uganda and Kenya are contributing to the conflict.

"Although the responsibility is to protect the population in South Sudan, the timely responsibility lies with the South Sudan government; the responsibility to prevent atrocities is regional and international," Dieng said.

He said large quantities of weapons and ammunition are flowing into South Sudan through Kenya and Uganda.

"International partners have to start targeting the accomplices, intermediaries of the South Sudanese parties."

Representatives of the Kenyan and Ugandan embassies in Washington were not available for comment.

African Union, or AU, chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat said Sunday that "the time has come" to impose sanctions on individuals blocking peace in South Sudan.

The U.N. diplomat said that ending the civil war in South Sudan will only be successful "if we have concerted regional and international efforts to leave no further options to the South Sudanese leaders to stop and start negotiating."

A high-level revitalization forum led by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, or IGAD, is scheduled to meet Feb. 5-16 in Addis Ababa to discuss security and governance structures in South Sudan.

"Now is the time to close any possibilities of alternatives," Dieng said. "The continuation of fighting should not be left out [as a] possible option. And we need IGAD, AU Peace and Security, and the U.N. Security Council to come together and take concerted action now."

Threat of sanctions

The U.N. special adviser said both the government and rebels have done very little to discipline individuals committing atrocities in the four-year conflict in South Sudan, adding that the country is suffering from what he called "total impunity of armed men who have embraced sexual violence as a systematic weapon of war."

Dieng visited South Sudan's state of Yei River last year and was told about an 84-year-old woman who was raped by men suspected to be government soldiers.

He said the armed South Sudanese parties who signed the December 2017 cease-fire deal have not honored their commitment to end violence. "This time we will have to treat the situation in a different manner. In other words, unless the parties commit sincerely to implement the agreement, sanctions should be imposed."

South Sudan's civil war has displaced some 4 million people and created a humanitarian crisis in the world's youngest country.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned countries of the IGAD regional bloc against taking sides in South Sudan's internal affairs.

"Those who are in the leadership positions in South Sudan, be [it] within the government or in the opposition, they will have to understand that this time on Earth on this year 2018, they will have to stop this fighting, otherwise they [the leaders] will have to pay for it," Dieng said.

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    John Tanza

    John Tanza works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters and is the managing editor and host of the South Sudan In Focus radio program.