S Sudan leaders must strike deal for sake of nation - UN

2015-04-25 16:05

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Juba - South Sudan's warring leaders must strike a compromise deal, the European Union's aid chief said Saturday, warning the international community was running out of patience over the country's civil war.

"The war and the blame games must stop, and they must stop now - it is high time for peace," said EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid Christos Stylianides, after travelling to both government and opposition strongholds in the war-torn country to plead with leaders to end fighting.

South Sudan's civil war started in December 2013, when President Salva Kiir accused Riek Machar, who had been sacked as vice president, of attempting a coup. Peace talks brokered by regional powers collapsed in March.

"The international community is becoming very frustrated," Stylianides told AFP, although he declined to say whether the EU would make further sanctions on military or political leaders, after placing asset freezes and travel bans last year on two commanders on both sides.

"I come from Cyprus, and so I know well what problems ethnic violence can cause," he added, referring to the division of the Mediterranean island between Greeks and Turks.

"All of us have our narratives of our history, but the most important things are peace and security. War is no solution, compromises must be made."

He said forces on all sides had to ensure aid workers could access those affected - and were not themselves attacked.

"They need access to vulnerable communities and the victims... and all players on the ground on all sides must safeguard that access," he said.

Inhumane circumstances

The war that is devastating the world's youngest nation has killed tens of thousands of people, analysts and experts say. It has also left over half of the country's 12 million people in need of aid, according to the United Nations.

"It is very painful to see such difficult circumstances on the ground. The eyes of the mothers of the malnourished children, circumstances that cannot be accepted as a human," he said after visiting a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders in Leer, an opposition town in the northern Unity state that is cut off by government troops.

"The international community is here to help but cannot support development if there is no peace," said at the end of a three day visit.

Over two million South Sudanese have fled the fighting, with over 520 000 of those now refugees in neighbouring Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya and Uganda.

Few are thought to have joined the flood of people northwards hoping to make the dangerous crossing to Europe, but Stylianides said some may try if the war was not stopped.

Europe's southern shores have been swamped with migrants fleeing war and hardship, many from African nations, and hundreds have died in a string of shipwrecks.

"I would not be surprised if we see migration from this region towards Europe," he said.

"We need to tackle the urgent needs of the people," he added, saying that solving the problem ultimately lay in the countries where people were fleeing from.

"That is where the solution is, and we need a strategic plan for Africa that tackles the root causes there," he said.

Read more on:    riek machar  |  salva kiir  |  south sudan  |  east africa

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