UN calls for ceasefires in South Sudan

Nairobi, April 18: The UN humanitarian agency Thursday called for an immediate cessation of hostilities in South Sudan where a three month conflict has killed thousands of people and displaced over a million others.

Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan Toby Lanzer said in a statement that the devastating cycle of violence and revenge in the world’s newest nation “must end”, Xinhua reported.

“I am deeply saddened and frustrated by the violence that has ravaged Bentiu and Bor in the past 72 hours. There is no excuse for direct attacks on civilians, or on those risking their own lives to protect them,” Lanzer said.

His remarks come as South Sudan’s army said Wednesday that rebels had seized the key oil town of Bentiu, one of the most bitterly contested regions.

Looting of shops by civilians in the state capital was also observed. The UN mission has also witnessed some 40 bodies on the streets in Bentiu.

Lanzer said a number of people seeking shelter in Bentiu doubled over the past few days to at least 9,000 people as UN agencies and other aid agencies made efforts to deal with immediate consequences of the ongoing violence.

“These events show, yet again, the pointlessness of the violence engulfing South Sudan. The current cycle of revenge will get the people of this country nowhere,” he said.

“It wrecks the present, and casts a dark shadow over what should have been a very bright future.”

The UN coordinator called on the parties to the conflict to immediately cease hostilities and resume meaningful negotiations to find a political solution to their differences.

Since the hostilities erupted between the government and opposition forces last December, an average of 75,000 civilians have found refuge from violence in UN bases across the country.

The UN continues to advocate with the country’s authorities for political and security solutions that will allow the displaced to return to their homes or seek abode in any other part of the country.

IANS