South Sudan "on a trajectory towards mass atrocities": UN chief

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Displaced civilians in South Sudan. UN Photo/Eric Kanalstein

South Sudan is "on a trajectory towards mass atrocities" and immediate action needs to be taken by the UN Security Council to prevent them.

That was the message from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, addressing Council members on Monday.

He urged the council to impose an arms embargo on warring parties, in support of a revived political process to end the fighting.

Matthew Wells reports.

Mr Ban said that latest reports suggested President Salva Kiir and his troops were on the brink of beginning fresh military hostilities with former Vice President Riek Machar and his forces.

Fighting between the two rivals has left tens of thousands dead and displaced across the country and it was time to put the people of South Sudan first, he added.

He said an arms embargo would diminish the fighting on both sides, and there had to be severe consequences for a failure to deescalate the violence.

The UN chief said the "people of South Sudan had suffered "far too much, for far too long."

"We must put all pressure on leaders who think or act otherwise. If we fail to act, South Sudan will be on a trajectory towards mass atrocities. Its people will be the target of those atrocities while they pin their hopes on the international community in general and the Security Council. I appeal to the Security Council to act, to act now, in fulfillment of its responsibility and in support of ongoing regional efforts."

Mr Ban said the UN Mission UNMISS was also hampered by restrictions on its freedom of movement across the country, in violation of terms agreed by the government.

He also called on South Sudan to unconditionally accept the deployment of the planned Regional Protection Force.

"Words alone are insufficient" he added "they must be matched by practical actions that demonstrate a strategic shift to fully cooperate".

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1’30″

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