UN rights chief warns South Sudan leaders

2014-04-30 11:24
The UN rights chief Navi Pillay. (File, AFP)

The UN rights chief Navi Pillay. (File, AFP)

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Juba - The UN's top human rights official warned South Sudan's leaders on Wednesday they would be responsible should the "real danger" of famine become reality, amid mounting global outrage at a wave of atrocities.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay also said more than 9 000 children have been recruited as soldiers on both sides of the brutal four-month civil war, which has already left thousands of people dead and more than a million displaced.

"I was appalled by the apparent lack of concern about the risk of famine displayed by both leaders," Pillay told reporters, after meeting with both President Salva Kiir and rebel chief Riek Machar.

"If famine does take hold later in the year - and the humanitarian agencies are deeply fearful that it will - responsibility for it will lie squarely with the country's leaders, who agreed to a cessation of hostilities in January and then failed to observe it themselves, while placing all the blame on each other."

Both government and rebel forces are guilty of recruiting children to fight, as well as a string of other abuses.

"More than 9 000 children have been recruited into armed forces by both sides.... Children have also been killed during indiscriminate attacks on civilians by both sides," she said, speaking in the capital Juba as she wrapped up a three-day visit to the country.

The UN has repeatedly made dire warnings on the extent of the humanitarian crisis, with more than 1.2 million people forced from their homes since fighting began on 15 December, including almost 300 000 civilians fleeing to neighbouring countries.

"The prospect of widespread hunger and malnutrition being inflicted on hundreds of thousands of their people, because of their personal failure to resolve their differences peacefully, did not appear to concern them very much," Pillay said of the rival leaders.
Read more on:    un  |  salva kiir  |  navi pillay  |  south sudan  |  east africa
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