Outgoing UN Secretary general Ban Ki-moon charged at South Sudan President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar for having “betrayed their people” by pursuing violence as a means to power attainment and consolidation.
In his 10th and final speech at the U.N. General Assembly, described by Foreign policy Magazine as a “full-throated, and thinly veiled, broadside against a host of world leaders”, Ban said “we see leaders rewriting constitutions, manipulating elections and taking other desperate steps to cling to power,”
“My message to all is clear,” he said “Serve your people. Do not subvert democracy; do not pilfer your country’s resources; do not imprison and torture your critics.”
Tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions displaced in the country’s worst violence since its secession from Sudan in July 2011. The UN, on several occasions, accused warring factions of gross human rights violations.
Voice of America reported that a high-level meeting also took place at the U.N. Thursday on the violence and humanitarian crisis in South Sudan. Opening the session, Ban Ki-moon gave a starkly different portrayal of the country’s political landscape.
“For years, South Sudan struggled to gain its independence. Now it is struggling for survival. Rarely have such high hopes been squandered so quickly,” Ban said.
He pointed out that 1 million South Sudanese children are not able to attend school, and nearly 5 million people face severe food shortages.
“I visited and I saw for myself the fear and despair of some of the 200,000 men, and women, boys and girls who are sheltering in U.N. protection sites,” Ban said, “Hundreds of thousands of others are destitute, roaming the bush or sheltering with extended family, friends or strangers.
“Unbelievably, the situation has deteriorated since my visit in February. Violence has erupted again in many parts of the country, forcing people from their homes.”
Ban said rape is occurring “on a massive scale” in South Sudan.
Humanitarian workers can only do their job if parties to the conflict respect their independence, the secretary-general said, but they face a severe funding shortfall of $700 million.