NEW YORK, MARCH 23 – Time in South Sudan is running out. “The security situation keeps deteriorating. The political landscape is increasingly fragmented along ethnic lines. The nation is wrecked by widespread violations of human rights, impunity, gender-based violence and recruitment of child-soldiers. And the humanitarian crisis is reaching its tipping point: famine has already been declared in some parts of the country”, the Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs Enzo Amendola warned today in a speech to a Security Council meeting in New York.
UNMISS, the humanitarian personnel, including religious volunteers, and their facilities are attacked, looted, or obstructed while attempting at providing relief to the population, Amendola added, suggesting that the Security Council needs to pursue a strategy, following on what has been agreed today in a Presidential Declaration. The language of the text on child-soldiers, attacks to the humanitarian facilities, and correlation between National Dialogue and implementation of the Peace Agreement was specifically introduced by the Italian delegation.
Briefing the Council, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres stressed the need for the leadership of South Sudan to achieve an immediate cessation of hostilities, restore the peace process and ensure unrestricted humanitarian access in order to pull the world’s youngest country back from the abyss, and back from a widening famine.
“All the optimism that accompanied the birth of South Sudan has been shattered by internal divisions, rivalries and the irresponsible behaviour of some of its leaders,” Mr. Guterres said: “As a result, a country that had seen a brief glimmer of hope for a better future has plunged back into darkness. We have to do everything in our power to change this.”
Amendola underlined that Italy is a “good friend” of South Sudan. “Back in 2011, together with our partners, Italy has promoted the South Sudanese independence. We have welcomed President Kiir’s announcement on the National Dialogue. But to be credible and effective, the Dialogue needs two pre-conditions to be fulfilled and a clear and common objective in order to succeed. First, ceasefire, because in order to achieve a political solution, the parties have to stop the fight. Second, inclusivity”, he added.
Italy, confirmed Amendola, will continue to provide humanitarian support to the people affected by famine and sorrow in the youngest country of the UN system: “We have just announced our new contribution to respond to the Secretary-General’s appeal. But the humanitarian crisis in the country is mostly man-made. Let’s work seriously, cooperatively, jointly in this Council, and at the regional and international level, to bring peace back in South Sudan”.
South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 but a political face-off between President Salva Kiir and First Vice-President Riek Machar plunged the country into full blown conflict in December 2013. At least 7.5 million people – almost two thirds of the population – need humanitarian assistance, according to UN estimates. (@OnuItalia)