by WorldTribune Staff, December 20, 2016
“Immediate action” needs to be take to prevent genocide in South Sudan, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Dec. 19.
“If we fail to act, South Sudan will be on a trajectory towards mass atrocities,” Ban told UN Security Council. “The Security Council must take steps to stem the flow of arms to South Sudan.”
Ban renewed his call for the Security Council to impose on arms embargo on the world’s newest country.
Noting that his special adviser on the prevention of genocide, Adama Dieng, has described genocide as a process, Ban said: “I am afraid that process is about to begin unless immediate action is taken.”
Dieng told the Security Council last month that he had seen “all the signs that ethnic hatred and targeting of civilians could evolve into genocide.”
“How many more clues do you, do we all need to move from our anxious words to real preventative action?” U.N. aid chief Stephen O’Brien asked the council on Dec. 19.
South Sudan has been wracked by civil war since 2013 over a political rivalry between President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and his former deputy Riek Machar, a Nuer. The rivals signed a peace deal last year, but fighting has continued.
Ban said reports suggested Kiir and his loyalists “are contemplating a new military offensive in the coming days” against Machar-allied opposition troops, while “there are clear indications that Riek Machar and other opposition groups are pursuing a military escalation.”
South Sudan’s UN ambassador, Akuei Bona Malwal, said the descriptions were exaggerated and did not “reflect the reality on the ground.”
“There have been no attempts, that we are aware of, on the part of the South Sudanese masses to turn against each other,” he told the Security Council on Dec. 19.
The United States has not been able to garner the minimum number of votes needed for the Security Council to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan. To be adopted, a resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes.
So far, only seven of the 15 members on the Security Council were in favor, with the remaining eight planning to abstain or vote no. While veto powers Russia and China are skeptical whether an arms embargo would achieve much in a country awash with weapons, diplomats did not expect them to block the measure.