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U.S calls for uninterrupted humanitarian access to civilians

Author : Daniel Danis | Published: Tuesday, April 15, 2014

IDPs shelter in a church in Malakal

A U.S diplomat is calling for uninterrupted humanitarian access to civilians in South Sudan, and the need to implement the cessation of hostilities agreement.

The Senior Advisor to the U.S special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan said the government and the SPLM-in Opposition should quickly negotiate a peaceful settlement to the four-month crisis.

Zack Vertin said both sides must also cooperate with resolutions passed by IGAD leaders and the mediation team.

“We need cooperation from the government and from the anti-government forces and others in terms of deploying those teams and deploying of a regional force to help both protect the Monitoring and Verification teams to do their jobs, and also to act as a deterrent against continued hostilities,” said Mr Vertin.

“Number two,” he continued, “is the humanitarian situation; the continued delays, checkpoints, harassment of humanitarian operation coupled with lack of urgency is that a growing need is really quite concerning to all of us. We press both parties consistently to allow complete access in all areas of South Sudan, and help facilitate this as a partner.”

Mr. Vertin said the U.S is not imposing any solutions to resolving the crisis in South Sudan.

He was speaking during a conference organized by the Center for Strategic & International Studies in the U.S, under the theme; “Prospects for Peace in South Sudan” last week.

At the meeting he said the crisis should be resolved through the participation of all South Sudanese.

“We continue to work hard with those who are trying to ensure broader civil society participation, participation of other political parties, of churches –is absolutely necessary for that dialogue –if we are to achieve a viable governance arrangements and institutional strengthening.”

In response, the Press Secretary in the Office of the President, Ateny Wek Ateny, told Eye Radio’s Dawn Program that President Salva Kiir is committed to the political dialogue.

Mr. Ateny said the government will continue to cooperate with UN agencies in the country.

“The President, from day one, has accepted to negotiate with rebels without preconditions. The issue of putting roadblocks, we don’t put roadblocks on humanitarian access as a government,” he exclaimed.

“We said the other stakeholders are going to be invited in a larger political dialogue conference which will be held in Juba, any other time after the signing of the peace agreement.”

The government says it is also not opposed to the deployment of the IGAD’s Protection and Deterrent Forces.

However, the SPLM-in Opposition has rejected the presence of any foreign troops in South Sudan.

Last week, IGAD announced the deployment of the Monitoring and Verification teams in Bor, Malakal and Bentiu.

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