South Sudan: UN Supports Ongoing Peace Efforts in South Sudan

Juba — The United Nations on Thursday reiterated calls for a peaceful end to South Sudan's ongoing conflict, days after regional leaders visited the capital, Juba for talks.

"The mission fully supports these intense and ongoing efforts of South Sudan's neighbours to seek a peaceful resolution to the current crisis", Hilde Johnson, head of the UN mission in South Sudan said on Thursday.

I have been in regular contact with President [Salva] Kiir and other political leaders of South Sudan on this very critical process to bring an end to the fighting and violence that is unfolding as we speak, she added.

Johnson also welcomed the Security Council resolution increasing the numbers of UN peacekeepers and police by 5,500. These were dispatched to enhance the mission's capability to protect civilians.

"The scale of the crisis has challenged an already overstretched mission," she said, stressing that UN personnel must not only protect civilians within their premises, but those generally under threat.

Heads of states from Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) have been actively engaging parties involved in the conflict to embrace dialogue as a means to end political rivalry in the new nation.

South Sudan has lately been tense, after what government said was a botched coup attempt in the capital. All fingers were later pointed at former vice-president Riek Machar, who denied and claimed it was a move initiated to silence the opposition.

POLITICAL DETAINEES SAFE

Kenya's president Uhuru Kenyatta and Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on Thursday visited the 11 senior political figures held in Juba for alleged in the coup attempt.

The detainees, mainly ex-ministers and a former state governor, were reportedly safe, well fed and had proper access to medical supplies.

Donald Booth, the United States envoy to the two Sudans said those detained called for dialogue and national reconciliation so as to end the ongoing unrest in the country.

Booth, who visited the 11 senior political officials on Monday, admitted that all of them were "secure and well taken care of".

"These individuals communicated to me their desire and their readiness to play a constructive role in ending the crisis through peaceful political dialogue and national reconciliation", the US envoy said in a statement.

"I will be following up to see how the government may utilise this constructive position", he added.

South Sudan witnessed the worst violence in its post-secession era, after over 500 people were killed and over 60,000 displaced in various parts of the country when violence broke out in the capital, Juba on 15 December.

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