(NAIROBI, 15 December, 2014) – Today, it is exactly one year since the South Sudan – Africa’s and the world’s newest state – descended into civil war. Civil society organizations in Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Tanzania, Rwanda and Ethiopia and South Sudan are commemorating those killed since the beginning of the war. Under the auspices of the Regional Network on Peace and Security (RENOPS), events in these countries have been held to remember those who perished in the war and express solidarity for peace in South Sudan.
The war has killed over 10,000 and continues to kill. Besides, an estimated 2,000,000 are left displaced. Most of the displacements are internal, while refugees are mostly in Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda. The conflict has created enormous humanitarian crisis in many parts of South Sudan.
Peace talks underway in Ethiopia have secured a cessation of hostilities (CoH) agreement but the warring parties have time and again violated the CoH agreement, raising doubts over the adequacy of political will to end the war – and the likelihood of a possible comprehensive peace agreement to hold.
RENOPS members across the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes region are commemorating the deaths through memorial prayers, candle vigils and peace marches. RENOPS stands with the people of South Sudan in calling an immediate end of the war and a peace deal that sets the framework for essential reforms, stability, accountability, national healing and reconciliation. During the commemoration events in the respective countries, members of RENOPS are calling South Sudan’s warring parties to end the war immediately. They urge South Sudan’s leaders to set aside their personal interests and put the interest of their people first to safeguard the hard won independence and the values of their liberation struggle. The continuation of war would mean more bloodshed, more suffering, instability and risks of famine in South Sudan and an increase in the threat to peace, security and stability of the region. RENOPS members in the commemoration events further call on their governments to;
- Step up pressure on South Sudan’s leaders to immediately end the war.
- Fully support peaceful and negotiated settlement and denounce any military efforts to resolve the conflict.
- Impose targeted sanctions on leaders who are obstructing peace efforts.
- Take all necessary measures within their capacity to ensure that no more arms are supplied to South Sudan’s warring parties as more arms will fuel the conflict further. Inaction would mean fanning an arms race between the political belligerents. Besides, militarising the South Sudanese nation further, this development also threatens to affect neighbouring countries as arms trafficking can translate to a spike in civilian arms ownership in the region.
This statement is a clarion call to governments in the region to acknowledge their people’s outcry and call for serious peace negotiations instead of stalling tactics while searching for military victory. We call on regional and national civil society in the six neighbouring IGAD member states to mobilise and remind their governmental institutions (executive, parliament, local governments and judiciary) to engage the antagonists in South Sudan to make and observe their commitments in the Addis Ababa peace process.