Ladies and Gentlemen,
I want to say a few words about the unfolding crisis in South Sudan.
The renewed fighting is outrageous. It is yet another grievous setback. It deepens the country’s suffering. It makes a mockery of commitments to peace.
Many people have been killed in heavy fighting. There are growing fears that many more could die in another round of violence.
Let me start by expressing my deep condolences to the families and loved ones of all those who have been killed in the fighting that has consumed Juba over the past four days. I condemn the killing of two Chinese peacekeepers and one UN national staff.
I am appalled by these indiscriminate attacks on civilians and peacekeepers. The two UNMISS compounds in Juba have been caught in the cross-fire and sustained mortar and heavy artillery fire. At least two internally displaced persons have been killed in the UNMISS protection of civilians sites, and some 35 injured.
Thousands of civilians have fled to various locations in town, including the two UNMISS compounds.
Yet again, the leaders of South Sudan have failed their people. Rarely has a country squandered so much promise, so quickly.
What kind of leadership is it that resorts to deadly weapons and identity politics, time and again? Failed leadership.
My message to President Salva Kiir and First Vice-President Riek Machar is clear: do everything in your power to de-escalate the hostilities immediately. Order your respective forces to withdraw to their bases.
Let me underscore, again, to all those leading and perpetrating these hostilities that acts of violence perpetrated against civilians and United Nations and humanitarian personnel, assets and premises may constitute a war crime.
There must and will be accountability for the atrocities that have been committed in South Sudan since 2013. It is not just leaders who must face a reckoning, but all those in the chain of command, including chiefs of staff and other officials complicit in the violence.
The international community, through its wide-ranging security, legal and human rights mechanisms, will be carefully monitoring developments in the coming days precisely in order to be able to identify on whom the burden of accountability for war crimes should ultimately be placed.
While I understand that President Kiir reportedly issued an order to the SPLA last night to stop fighting, hostilities continue today and have spread to parts outside of Juba in Central Equatoria.
UNMISS is doing all it can to contain a very volatile situation. Our peacekeepers maintain a proactive posture, conducting patrols within and immediately outside the protection of civilians sites. It has reinforced perimeter security to enhance protection for IDPs and UN staff at its two compounds.
However, freedom of movement and access outside of the UN compounds remains a challenge.
I demand all the belligerent parties to guarantee unfettered access and freedom of movement to United Nations and humanitarian personnel engaged in life-saving activities in aid of the South Sudanese people.
I welcome last night’s statement by the Security Council. The gravity of the situation demands a rapid response. Today, I urge the Council to take action on three fronts:
First, impose an immediate arms embargo on South Sudan.
Second, enact additional targeted sanctions on leaders and commanders blocking the implementation of the Agreement.
Third, fortify the UN Mission in South Sudan, UNMISS. We desperately need attack helicopters and other material to fulfil our mandate to protect civilians.
I also urge all countries contributing to UNMISS to stand their ground. Any withdrawals would send precisely the wrong signal, in South Sudan and across the world.
I am consulting with my team and concerned organizations for me, myself, to participate in the African Union summit to consult with the Heads of State of IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) and the region on how to restore and better secure the peace process and report to the Security Council within a week. As you know, I am meeting with the Security Council tomorrow afternoon.
This is the time to massively reinforce UN action. When a Government cannot or will not protect its people, and when warring parties seem more intent on enriching and empowering themselves at the expense of their people, the international community has a responsibility to act.
I call on the Security Council and the entire membership of the United Nations to rise to this moment and protect the human rights of South Sudanese.
I thank you.