UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warns that there is a real risk of mass atrocities being committed in South Sudan, following a sharp rise in hate speech and ethnic incitement. In a report to the Security Council released yesterday, Ban said that UN peacekeepers in South Sudan lack the manpower and capability to stop mass atrocities should they occur.
“There is a very real risk of mass atrocities being committed in South Sudan, in particular following the sharp rise in hate speech and ethnic incitement in recent weeks,” the report states.
“While the secretariat will continue to make every effort to implement the mandated task of protecting civilians through the use of ‘all necessary means,’ it must be clearly understood that United Nations peacekeeping operations do not have the appropriate reach, manpower or capabilities to stop mass atrocities.”
In the report, Ban repeated earlier calls on the Security Council to impose an arms embargo on the country which he said is “inundated with weaponry.”
He also said that government restrictions on the peacekeepers movements have led to mission paralysis and are undermining humanitarian operations in the world’s youngest nation. South Sudan has been riven by ethnic violence since shortly after gaining independence from Sudan in 2011.
In 2013, the country was plunged into civil war broke when government forces loyal to President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, battled rebels led by his former vice president Machar, who is a Nuer. A peace agreement was signed in August 2015, but fighting continues. Tens of thousands have been killed and more than 2 million displaced.
Ban’s report recommended that the mandate of the UN peacekeeping force first deployed in 2011 be renewed for another year.