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UN chief backs new mediation for South Sudan


United Nations- image source climateactionprogramme

United Nations- image source climateactionprogramme

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wants to beef up African mediation efforts in South Sudan after 16 months of negotiations failed to produce a peace deal.

Ban said in a report to the Security Council this week that a new group of peace mediators should involve “high-level representation” from the African Union, the United Nations, the European Union, China and so-called troika states — Britain, the United States and Norway.

But the UN chief acknowledged that the proposal has run into problems.

“I urge regional leaders to resolve any differences they may have on the way forward for the peace process and expeditiously resume negotiations, supported by a strengthened mediation and an enlarged group of political backers,” Ban said in the report released Friday.

He added that the United Nations was ready to scale up its involvement in the peace talks that have been led by the eight-nation African IGAD group, with Ethiopia playing a key role.

Talks broke down last month despite threats from the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on those who block peace efforts and threaten South Sudan’s stability.

Over two million people have been driven from their homes since the war erupted in December 2013 following a fallout between President Salva Kiir and his then-vice president Riek Machar.

The United Nations is sheltering 118,000 people in its peacekeeping bases and is struggling to provide aid to 2.5 million South Sudanese who are facing food shortages, in particular in Upper Nile State.

Ban expressed concern over child recruitment in the fighting, accusing both the government forces and the rebels of using child soldiers despite assurances to the contrary.

Over the past two months, 1,837 children reportedly fell victim to recruitment, abduction, killings and sexual violence, the report said.

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