POLITICAL PROCESS IN SOUTH SUDAN SLOW, BUT NOT DEAD, UNSC TOLD

UNITED NATIONS-- The political process in South Sudan is not dead but it requires significant resuscitation.

That was the word delivered to the Security Council by David Shearer, the United Nation's top envoy to the country and head of the peacekeeping mission, UNMISS, who warned that parties to the civil war continue to ignore Council calls for adherence to a ceasefire as they push for a military victory when only a political solution is possible.

Western nations have pushed for an arms embargo for three years but consensus in the Security Council has been absent.

Peace in South Sudan remains out of reach.

Despite a deal by the opposing groups in South Sudan signed in August 2015, progress has been slow if not regressive as violence spreads across the country, says Shearer, who heads the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISSS).

"Since July last year, the security, economic and humanitarian situation has worsened markedly. Just in the past few days, the currency devalued dramatically, leaving the Government struggling to meet its financial obligations. As frustration mounts, there is a risk of instability. Virtually no part of the country is immune from conflict. Yet, there has been no concerted effort by any party to adhere to a ceasefire. Instead, over the past month, we are seeing an intensification of the conflict."

UNMISS continues to directly protect more than 220,000 civilians in six protection sites which house people too scared to go back home due to ethnic-based targeting on both sides, including by armed militias. A total of 3.4 million people have been displaced from their homes, while up to five million face severe food insecurity, including famine.

As the Council fails to find agreement on the best way to get the parties to stop fighting, Britain's Permanent Representative to the UN, Matthew Rycroft, has called for added pressure.

"One way of doing that is through imposing an arms embargo, another way of doing that is through targeted sanctions. If others have got other ideas, when we look forward to hearing what those ideas are but for now those who've been against the embargo and sanctions have not in our view come up with any credible additional pressures themselves."

France's Francois Delatrre concurred. "The situation there is getting worse everyday, across the board. Violence intensifies and spreads in many parts of the country, the humanitarian situation is a catastrophe, UNMISS is threatened, some humanitarian staff were murdered in the last few weeks, so the situation is getting worse everyday which is totally unacceptable."

However, Russia's Peter Iliichev says his country's position on punitive measures has not changed. "Our position regarding a ramping up of Security Council sanctions against South Sudan has not changed. Sound peace in South Sudan will not be brought about by a Security Council arms embargo but rather by targeted measures to disarm civilians as well as demobilize and re-integrate combatants," he adds.

"We also think there is a need to listen to the views of regional countries that discussions on the levying of additional restrictions against Juba would be untimely."

The UN and humanitarian workers also complain that roadblocks and denials of flight safety assurances are preventing them from reaching people in need.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

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