United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Juba today, capital of strife-torn South Sudan, to show solidarity with the people and hold talks with top Government officials, community leaders, and the head of the UN mission there.
Mr. Ban arrives amid a conflict which began in mid-December 2013 as apolitical dispute President Salva Kiir and his former deputy president, Riek Machar, and which has since given way to increasing violence believed to have left thousands dead and which has forced tens of thousands to seek refuge at UN bases around the country.
The conflict has also been marked by numerous grave human rights violations. Mid-April also saw an upsurge in sectarian violence, with mass killings in Bentiu and Bor.
Just last week, High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, and Adama Dieng, the Secretary-General's Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide, visited the country and reported a drastic deterioration in the human rights situation, marked by increasing ethnic violence and revenge killings. They urged the UN Security Council not to simply stand by as the world's youngest nation plunges deeper into crisis.
Since the beginning of the current crisis, the UN chief has repeatedly called on the leaders to find a political solution and to put an immediate end to the violence which has led to the suffering of so many innocent civilians.
Today, Mr. Ban is expected to with the President Kiir.
He also plans to visit, with the head of the UN Mission in the country (UNMISS), Ms. Hilde Johnson, the protection of civilians site in the UNMISS Tomping compound. Mr. Ban is also expected to meet with the community leaders representing the thousands of civilians who have sought shelter in the United Nations compound to hear of their concerns first hand.
While in Juba, the Secretary-General will also have an opportunity to meet with civil society leaders, especially from women's and religious groups.