National
South Sudan peace talks resume
Publish Date: Apr 29, 2014
South Sudan peace talks resume
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay (Center-right) and Special Advisor for the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng (Center-left), attending a meeting with South Sudan government officials, in Juba on Monday. CREDIT/AFP (Source: UNHCHR)
  • mail
  • img
newvision

ADDIS ABABA - Peace talks between South Sudan's government and rebels aimed at ending a four-month-old civil war resumed in the Ethiopian capital on Monday, amid mounting global outrage over a wave of atrocities.

The long-awaited resumption of the talks, which have been on hold for several weeks against a backdrop of heavy fighting, came as top UN human rights officials arrived in the country to probe massacres and other war crimes.

"The South Sudan peace talks that focus on a political dialogue for national reconciliation and healing resumed in Addis Ababa today following the arrival of all parties," a statement from the IGAD regional bloc said.

It added that both sides "shared concern over the recent escalation of the conflict and expressed their renewed commitment to the mediation process."

The stop-start talks began shortly after the conflict broke out on December 15 between supporters of President Salva Kiir and ex-vice president Riek Machar. A ceasefire was signed in late January but was quickly violated.

With the UN Security Council last week threatening sanctions against leaders on both sides, it is hoped the new round of talks will have more success in ending the conflict in the world's youngest nation, which won independence from Khartoum in 2011 but has collapsed into all-out war and, according to aid workers, is on the brink of famine.

The war has left thousands and possibly tens of thousands of people dead, and forced over one million to flee their homes. More than 78,000 civilians are currently crammed into eight UN bases in the country, while thousands have fled to neighbouring states, mainly Uganda and Ethiopia.

The capital Juba was also hosting a visit by the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, and special envoy for the prevention of genocide, Adama Dieng.

The two are expected to remain in the country until Wednesday and hold meetings with Kiir. They are due to tour massacre sites "if security conditions allow", UN Mission in South Sudan spokesman Joe Contreras said.

'Horrific brutality'

Earlier this month, the rebels were blamed for the killings of hundreds of people in the oil hub of Bentiu, and a pro-government mob killed dozens of civilians in an attack on a UN base in Bor.

More details on the Bentiu atrocities emerged on Monday, with the international aid agency Doctors Without Borders (known by its French acronym MSF) releasing fresh eyewitness testimony of the carnage.

"What I saw in Bentiu -- bodies of civilians strewn through the streets in grisly states of damage and decay, being eaten by dogs and birds -- was an affront to humanity," said Raphael Gorgeu, MSF's head of mission in the country.

"The violence in South Sudan has taken a particularly ugly turn, stripping people of their most basic human dignity. It is a terrible thing to witness."

Christopher Lockyear, MSF's operations manager for South Sudan, said staff had "heard tales of horrific brutality taking place on the hospital grounds" in Bentiu, and had credible information of up to 33 people killed in Bentiu State Hospital when the town fell to rebels.

"People who fled to the hospital in search of safety were selectively targeted based on their identities and loyalties. Once again in South Sudan, we see hospitals -- places that should be protected safe havens -- are increasingly places of attack and cruelty," he said.

Last week the UN Security Council raised the threat of sanctions against both sides in the conflict who have been implicated in atrocities and war crimes including massacres, rapes, attacks on UN bases sheltering civilians from ethnic violence and the recruitment of child soldiers.

AFP

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
Stop-start South Sudan peace talks resume
TALKS aimed at ending South Sudan's civil war resumed in Ethiopia, mediators said, as sporadic fighting continued to rage between rebel and government fighters...
Youth call for electoral reform
UGANDA is known to have the highest figures of people living under the age of 30 at 77% of the population according to UNICEF. However the 2011 elections only managed to attract 49% of the population...
Gov’t urged to re-focus HIV campaign in fishing communities
ACCORDING to reports from both the Uganda AIDS Commission and the health ministry, HIV prevalence in fishing communities ranges from 25% to 50%. It is higher among women compared to the men...
Resettling of Bududa families starts
GOVERNMENT will this week start resettling 1150 families in areas at high risk of landslides and floods from the Mount Elgon region as part of its efforts to find a permanent solution...
Judge blasts parliament over gender insensitive laws
HIGH Court Judge David Batema has blasted parliament for passing what he called insensitive laws when it comes to women issues...
Kenya grieves one year after Westgate mall attack
Thousands of mourners gathered in Kenya''s capital on Sunday for emotional commemorations marking a year since Somali Islamist gunmen attacked Nairobi''s Westgate shopping mall and massacred at least 67 people....
Should bride price be made optional?
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter