Decision to send regional protection force to South Sudan welcomed by UN chief

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IDP's that took refuge and protection with UNMISS, pack up their belongings following five straight days of heavy clashes in Juba in early July. Photo: UNMISS/Eric Kanalstein

The decision by a group of African leaders to authorize a regional protection force for South Sudan has been welcomed by the UN Secretary-General.

Ban Ki-moon commended the "decisive action" taken by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Plus countries on Friday to deploy troops in an effort to prevent a slide back into full-scale civil war.

Fighting broke out in the capital Juba last month, between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and his then First Vice President, Riek Machar, leading to clashes across the country.

Matthew Wells reports.

In a statement issued on Sunday, UN Chief Ban Ki-moon called on all South Sudanese leaders to "set aside their personal differences and demonstrate their commitment" to the terms of the peace deal signed last August, which was, he said, the "only viable path to ending the crisis."

He welcomed President Kiir's acceptance of the IGAD and African Union ad hoc committee on South Sudan's move to deploy troops to try and restore the peace, and resolve the political leadership crisis.

Details have yet to be finalized on the scope and size of the force.

The UN says that close to five million South Sudanese are severely food-insecure, and since the latest fighting erupted, 60,000 have fled into neighbouring Uganda.

Mr Ban said he remained "deeply concerned about the continued fighting" and called for an "immediate end" to hostilities.

He also expressed his outrage at continuing reports of "serious human rights violations and abuses, including widespread sexual violence against women and young girls, committed by armed men in uniform."

He called on all parties to uphold their responsibility to protect civilians and demanded that those responsible for "these despicable crimes" be brought to justice.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1'08"

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