As South Sudanese across the country look forward to the Easter holiday, traditionally a time of reconciliation and redemption, they are confronted by an escalation in the conflict and an unprecedented expansion in hunger and malnutrition. Peace is painfully absent during this holy season.
Although President Salva Kiir Mayardit told IGAD Heads of State on March 25, as reflected in the IGAD Summit Communique, that he had agreed to announce a unilateral ceasefire, no such announcement has yet been made and government forces have not ceased military operations. On April 1, armed opposition leader Dr. Riek Machar Teny rejected a request by JMEC Chairperson Festus Mogae to issue a unilateral ceasefire.
We urge all leaders to take action to end the armed conflict in order to stop fighting that endangers civilians, worsens the humanitarian situation, and prevents them from resuming normal livelihoods. We are alarmed by credible reports of the following acts:
- On April 3, the SPLA and affiliated forces orchestrated an attack on the town of Pajok in the legacy state of Eastern Equatoria, killing civilians, including women and children, and forcing the displacement of thousands across the border to Uganda.
- On April 10, the SPLA attacked civilians in the town of Wau. The UN Mission in South Sudan reported that civilians were killed and injured in the violence, which also displaced thousands. While this incident followed an attack by armed opposition forces on an SPLA convoy, in which SPLA officers were killed, the government action was disproportionate and targeted civilians.
- On March 8 and March 18, soldiers affiliated with Riek Machar Teny’s armed opposition faction kidnapped three expatriate oil workers and killed three South Sudanese oil workers.
- On March 31, in Aburoc in legacy Upper Nile state, armed opposition soldiers affiliated with Riek Machar Teny’s faction assaulted humanitarian workers, while on April 3, in Melut, also in Upper Nile, National Security Service officials detained and severely beat two aid workers.
The Troika and Canada strongly condemn these actions and all other attacks upon unarmed civilians by the warring parties. We reiterate there is no military solution to this political conflict, and strongly supports calls by IGAD for all factions to immediately stop the fighting. A unilateral ceasefire by either side would show the world a serious commitment to peace, to addressing the humanitarian crisis, and to advancing the interests of the people of South Sudan.