The United States issued a warning to warring factions in South Sudan that those perpetuating and resounding drums of war will be held accountable for war crimes and sanctioning by a UN security council resolution.
Yet fierce fighting continues to shake the surroundings of the capital Juba, killing people and driving terrified residents from their homes, it is still uncertain who will heed to the calls of ceasefire.
The United States served as a midwife in the creation of the South Sudan, formed in July 2011 by partitioning Sudan.
“We call for an immediate halt to combat operations and full compliance with the ceasefire declared on July 11 and in the peace agreement,” said Mark Toner, the deputy spokesperson of the Department of State said in a 30 July statement.
The Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) and the African Union which pursued the current peace agreement which is hanging by thread have issued similar concerns over the fighting, which has continued, despite a declared ceasefire.
Last week, the head of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, a body set to monitor the implementation of the IGAD brokered peace agreement in South Sudan said there is no political will among warring factions to talk peace.
Festus Gontebanye Mogae who is also Botswana’s former president said both Riek Machar and Salva Kiir “seem to be bent on military rather than a political solution” to the crisis in the country. He said it was regrettable.
According to the U.S, the “short-sighted” actions of South Sudan’s leaders in recent weeks have exacerbated an already intolerable humanitarian crisis as large portions of the country are facing emergency levels of food insecurity.
“The people of South Sudan should have the opportunity to build their country and pursue their aspirations in peace,” said Toner, further adding, “Instead they are facing the further untold suffering of continued conflict”.
“Those responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other violations of international humanitarian law – including those who order or incite violence, or encourage or contribute to the commission of crimes – will be held accountable,” stressed the US official.
Last month, skirmishes between force loyal to President Salva Kiir and those allied to ex-rebel leader Riek Machar in the capital, Juba left over 270 soldiers dead. The recent outbreak of violence, the UN says, has displaced more than 40,000 civilians.
A recent report from the UN gave horrific accounts of civilian killings and a rise in the number of government soldiers in uniform raping and gang raping women and girls who have taken refuge in UN protection of civilian sites. The world body documented at least 120 cases of sexual violence in South Sudan in the last two weeks.