The world must act now and stop the slaughter of civilians in South Sudan. Mass killings have been going on unchecked in the barely three-year-old African country despite the presence of an 8,500-strong UN force. The most recent of the havoc on a UN camp inside a UN peacekeeping base in Bor in Jonglei state left at least 58 civilians dead, among them children.
The international community should bring an end to this cruel cycle of violence. It is morally wrong for the combatants to target civilians who have sought shelter in churches, mosques and hospitals. More detestable is the belligerents killings of the civilians based on their ethnicity. The UN mission in South Sudan should continue to keep open its gates to save unarmed civilians seeking shelter from the footloose fighters who target civilians.
For four months now, there is no winner in the conflict but hundreds of Sudanese continue to die in the ethnic massacres in Bentiu and Bor towns. Several Igad-brokered peace talks in Addis Ababa have failed to resolve the conflict. Even threats of targeted sanctions by the UN’s Security Council members and US president Barrack Obama against South Sudan’s warring parties have not stopped the war.
There is a virtual stalemate between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, the South Sudan’s government army loyal to President Salva Kiir, and the rebel side loyal to Kiir’s former vice-president and rival, Riek Machar. Both sides have been accused of ethnically motivated killings by the UN and human rights group. But the SPLA, a strong and centralised command and with the burden of state control, should shoulder responsibility of protecting civilians. But the rebels need to bear equal responsibility for the civilians who bleed from the horrors of massacres, rape, mass starvation, and ethnic cleansing.
The international community should join Igad and the EAC to save the country now on the verge of collapse. Igad and EAC should resolve to ensure no ethnic cleansing and genocide happens again in the East African region.
The world watched as this kind of violence happened in Rwanda. Igad, EAC and the international community should not stand by and watch again but stop this horror in South Sudan.