United Nations peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous pushed the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan and to blacklist more rival leaders in the war-torn country, where he sees little prospect of a political solution.
As the world’s newest state marks four years of independence from Sudan, Ladsous briefed the council behind closed doors after the United Nations accused government forces of sexually abusing women and girls and reportedly burning some alive.
“This situation is absolutely appalling,” Ladsous told a small group of reporters before briefing the 15-member Security Council. “What really should be looked at is a possibility of more sanctions towards more leaders.”
“There should be a decision about an arms embargo because it is really completely questionable that the very meagre resources that the country has go into buying more weapons,” he said.
The 15-member Security Council last week blacklisted six rival generals in South Sudan, the first people to be subjected to a global asset freeze and travel ban.
Diplomats said the council could not agree on imposing an arms embargo when it set up the sanctions regime in March, with the United States, Russia and China opposed to it, while European and other council members were in favour. Instead the council just threatened such a measure.
“There is a determination to look very seriously at what further steps can be taken,” New Zealand Ambassador Gerard van Bohemen, president of the Security Council for July, said after the briefing on Wednesday.
South Sudan plunged into civil war in December 2013 when a political crisis sparked fighting between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and rebels allied with his former deputy Riek Machar. The conflict has reopened ethnic fault lines that pit Kiir’s Dinka people against Machar’s ethnic Nuer forces.
Machar warned earlier on Wednesday of renewed fighting, saying a three-year extension to Kiir’s mandate was illegal and the people had the right to “rise up and overthrow his regime” if he stayed on.
“I think it is no less than seven ceasefire agreements that were signed, not a single of which was implemented and beyond that we do not see a political solution,” Ladsous said. “I cannot understand that leaders … can show so little regard for the welfare of their population.”
He said it was possible crimes against humanity and war crimes were being committed in South Sudan and those responsible needed to be held “accountable for this absolutely atrocious behaviour.”
Thousands have been killed and millions displaced in the conflict.
Last month Ladsous slammed Kiir for hindering efforts to protect civilians by blocking U.N. attack helicopters and surveillance drones and declaring that U.N. personnel caught taking photos will be deemed spies.