The members of the Troika (Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States) are alarmed about the escalating conflict around Yei, which represents a flagrant breach of the December 2017 Cessation of Hostilities Agreement and the September 2018 revitalized peace agreement. These military actions, and the trading of blame, must stop.
We are particularly disturbed that fighting by all parties in the Yei area has severe humanitarian consequences for the local population. Thousands of South Sudanese have been displaced and fled across the border into the Democratic Republic of the Congo in recent days to escape fighting and violence against civilians, the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees has confirmed.
This renewed violence risks undermining the peace agreement and lowers confidence of the Troika and other international partners in the parties’ seriousness and commitment to peace at a critical time of the pre-transitional period of the revitalized peace agreement.
We are concerned that if the situation escalates, the progress made in implementing the peace agreement will be irrevocably set back. In addition, if violence against civilians continues unchecked, it could fuel further cycles of retribution and atrocities.
All parties -- the Government of South Sudan, the SPLM-IO, and National Salvation Front -- must end the violence immediately in fulfillment of the commitments they made in the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement. Namely, they must ensure the safety of civilians and their freedom of movement, and guarantee safe routes for civilians to leave conflict areas. The parties must allow unrestricted access to Yei and the surrounding area for the UN Mission in South Sudan, the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring and Verification Mechanism, as well as all humanitarian actors, to enable them to effectively carry out their roles.
Regional leadership will be essential to securing progress on this matter. We urge the region to respect the UN Arms Embargo and to hold those responsible for violations of the peace agreement and Cessation of Hostilities Agreement to account in line with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) statement of 31 January that called for all parties to “cease hostilities and military preparations immediately.” The Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (R-JMEC) has a central role in holding the parties to these agreements accountable to their commitments. We urge IGAD to appoint a credible and empowered R-JMEC Chair as a matter of urgency.