Worrying youth mobilisation in South Sudan

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The United Nations (UN) mission in South Sudan – UNMISS – is concerned about reports of armed Nuer youth mobilising in the greater Jonglei area.

The mobilisation, according to an UNMISS statement “has the potential to trigger violent attacks which could impact civilians”.

News reports have it at least 57 people died in attacks since Christmas Day (25 December).

At the same time as the UNMISS statement another, issued under the auspices of the regional bloc IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development in Eastern Africa; the United States (US)/United Kingdom (UK)/Norway troika, the European Union (EU) and the body overseeing the peace agreement signed by the warring parties in South Sudan (R-JMEC), noted “escalating ongoing violence, loss of life and reports of alleged use of heavy weaponry” were concerning.

It further called on combatants and supporters “to immediately cease hostilities, exercise restraint and respect human rights”.

A call was also made to South Sudanese leaders to urgently intervene to stop the fighting and ensure civilians’ safety and security as well as unimpeded humanitarian access to people affected by fighting.

In its statement UNMISS pointed out the primary responsibility to protect civilians was government’s adding it continues to deploy all available resources and make every effort to ensure affected populations are safe and secure.

“UNMISS calls on leaders of the Lou Nuer and Murle communities to exert positive and constructive influences on their youth groups, encouraging them to embrace dialogue and refrain from violence as a means of resolving grievances.

“Additionally, the Mission urges community leaders to ensure release of previously abducted women and children and the return of looted cattle to their rightful owners as well as fostering reconciliation and respect for fundamental human rights.

“UNMISS stands ready to support government authorities and respective communities to reducing tension through dialogue and other peaceful means,” the mission now into its 1th year of operations said.