South Sudan security operatives barred a ceasefire monitoring team from regional peace commission, Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) from accessing the Southern town of Yei, where intense fighting and acts of genocide have been reported.
The Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM) which is responsible for overseeing compliance with the August 2015 Peace Agreement and reports to JMEC was reportedly on a fact finding mission in central Equatoria region.
In a press statement issued Monday, CTSAMM said it was “denied freedom of movement while trying to reach Yei to conduct an assessment of the area and carry out its mandated activities” even after obtaining clearance from relevant authorities.
“However when the team began their journey from Juba this morning they were stopped at a check point on the outskirts of the city and told they would not be allowed pass beyond that point,” said the statement.
Yei, which is part of the greater South Sudan Equatoria region has been in the news over a spate of ethnically related violence from both rebels and government forces.
In a report released last week, Human Rights watch said government and rebel forces in have had an equal share in terrorizing, killing and abusing civilians the region.
Murderous acts of ethnic cleansing, Rapes, torture, arbitrary arrests among others are some of the abuses Human Rights Watch documented in Yei as committed by both sides in the current conflict.
Once a beacon of coexistence, Yei is now a center of the country’s renewed civil war, gripped by a wave of killings among South Sudan’s dozens of different ethnic groups. And things could get worse.
“The signs are all there for the spread of this ethnic hatred and targeting of civilians that could evolve into genocide, if something is not done now to stop it,” said Adama Dieng, the U.N.’s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, after visiting.
The ceasefire mechanism called on the South Sudan to permit its movement so as to be able to assess the situation and create a solution to the looming genocide.
” The CTSAMM would like to reiterate that it has a legal right to be present in South Sudan as stipulated in Chapter II of the ARCSS, and condemns, in the strongest terms, the denial of freedom of movement for the CTSAMM MVTs,” said the statement.
Fighting in South Sudan broke out between government forces and those allied to rebel leader Riek Machar in July 2015, collapsing the peace agreement, signed in August 2015, after 20 months of a brutal civil war.