By Lawrence Audu
The violations of South Sudan’s ceasefire agreement, as well as new reports on sexual violence and the recruitment of child soldiers, drew a strongly worded warning from the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) ministerial council.
The ceasefire agreement in the four-year civil war went into effect December 24 but was violated almost immediately, according to reports from the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM). IGAD said the failure and actions associated with it across the past month are serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian laws.
High levels of tension are reported in Central Equatoria, while south of Mundri in Western Equatoria, government forces clashed with SPLA-IO groups after reportedly stealing property from civilians. The unauthorized troops and patrols in and of themselves are prohibited acts, the IGAD council said.
Violations also have been reported in Unity State and could lead to escalation. CTSAMM is currently following up on ceasefire violation reports and investigations in Upper Nile, Jonglei, Unity State, Greater Bahr el Ghazal and Greater Equatoria.
Referring to verified cases of sexual and gender-based violence committed by government security forces, IGAD called for action to end impunity. “It is deplorable that military personnel can carry out such acts, and the Council of Ministers calls on the Government of South Sudan to take immediate action to bring the perpetrators to justice, and report on their progress in this respect within one month of the publication of this statement,” IGAD said.