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UN calls on South Sudan to resolve current tensions

By Edith Mutethya in Nairobi, Kenya | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2021-09-08 17:10

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan has called on national and local leaders to resolve heightening tensions in Tambura and the wider Western Equatoria region following a fresh outbreak of fighting.

According to a statement by the UN Mission on Monday, sporadic shooting between groups were reported in Tambura, a development it said endangered civilians' lives, creating the risk of further displacement.

Nicholas Haysom, the special representative of the United Nations Secretary-General, said the insecurity has already displaced 40,000 people.

"This is increasing demand for humanitarian assistance at a time when resources are already stretched. Aid workers are also finding themselves caught in the crossfire while trying to carry out critical tasks," Haysom said. "Authorities must do more to ensure humanitarians have safe and unhindered access to those in need."

Haysom urged parties to the conflict to end the fighting to pave way for the restoration of security.

"It is vital that political leaders at the national and local level take urgent action to resolve tensions and bring communities together to avoid further loss of life, homes and livelihoods."

Haysom said the UN Mission is committed to continue supporting various reconciliation and peacebuilding activities, bringing together political and security actors, civil society, traditional and faith-based leaders and community members.

The current conflict in the Western Equatoria region erupted in June and has so far not only displaced thousands but has left several people dead.

Last week Makuku Sam, the minister of labor, public service and human resources development and the head of the delegation mandated with ending the violence and restoring peace in the region, said since the arrival in Tambura, they have retrieved more than 30 bodies, mainly women, children and elders.

The Tambura conflict has been attributed to clashes between the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-in-Opposition, also known as the anti-governmental forces and forces loyal to James Nando who defected from the party.

While the conflict has raged between the two forces, there has also been ethnic tension between Zande and Balanda tribes.

In an interview with Radio Tamajuz last month, Willian Baiki, the minister for state information in Western Equatoria, attributed the clashes to mobilization by Nando of Zande forces who were with him in the anti-government forces.

The conflict in Equatoria has been ongoing despite the signing of a deal in 2018 meant to bring South Sudan's warring parties to a ceasefire.

According to the International Crisis Group, an independent organization working to prevent wars, Thomas Cirillo, a leader of the Equatoria-based national Salvation Front, rejected the deal, saying it failed to address his peoples' core grievances.

The organization is of the view Cirillo and South Sudan President Salva Kiir should be pressed by mediators and external powers to broaden the existing peace deal by fulfilling the bespoke ceasefire agreement between them.

This is in addition to involving Cirillo in the country's constitution-making process and supporting a grassroots process to address local grievances.

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