- The present report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 2187 (2014), by which the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) until 30 May 2015 and requested that I report on the implementation of the Mission’s mandate by no later than 30 April 2015. This report provides an update to my previous report (S/2015/118) dated 17 February 2015, and covers developments from 11 February to 13 April 2015.
- Political developments
South Sudan peace process
- On 23 February, phase three of the peace negotiations mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) resumed in Addis Ababa. This followed the agreement between the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit, and the leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) in Opposition, Riek Machar Teny, on 1 February, to establish a transitional government of national unity by 9 July 2015 and to resolve all outstanding issues, including power-sharing, no later than 5 March. The deadline of 5 March for the conclusion of a peace agreement was decided by IGAD leaders so as to allow for a pre-transition phase to commence on 9 April, followed by the installation of the transitional government by 9 July, coinciding with the expiration of the mandate of the current Government. Negotiations at delegates level were organized in three thematic committees — leadership; transitional security and permanent ceasefire arrangements; and economy, justice and humanitarian affairs — and were followed by direct negotiations between President Kiir and Riek Machar from 3 to 6 March.
- Regrettably, little progress was made during this last phase of negotiations. The principals were unable to reconcile stark differences on the structure of the transitional government, power-sharing ratios and the allocation of portfolios in the Council of Ministers, the composition of the National Legislative Assembly, transitional security and ceasefire arrangements, as well as wealth-sharing, resource allocation, reparation issues, constitutionalism and institutional reforms. On 6 March, the IGAD mediation announced the indefinite suspension of the peace talks. In a message addressed to the people of South Sudan, the IGAD Chairperson, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Dessalegn, expressed regret over the parties’ inability to reach a settlement, noted that the peace process needed to be reinvigorated and reformed, and that IGAD mediation efforts could not continue unaltered. He added that he would consult with IGAD Heads of State and Government and other African and international partners on the way forward.
- Since the breakdown of the talks, the IGAD Chairperson has been consulting with IGAD leaders on a proposal to expand the mediation to include high-level representation from the African Union High-level Ad Hoc Committee, the United Nations, the European Union, the Troika States and China, with the hope that a strengthened mediation would be able to move the peace process forward. Consensus around the proposal, however, has yet to coalesce. The IGAD mediation team, for its part, continued to work on the text of a comprehensive peace agreement to be used as the basis for future negotiations. On 24 March, the African Union Peace and Security Council announced that the African Union High-level Ad Hoc Committee will be composed of the Heads of State and Government of Algeria, Chad, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Africa.
- Meanwhile, reactions to Security Council resolution 2206 (2015) of 3 March establishing a sanctions regime against spoilers of the peace process were mixed. On 3 March and on several other occasions, members of the Government argued that the imposition of sanctions would be counterproductive to the peace process and harmful to the ordinary citizens of South Sudan, while SPLM/A in Opposition and other opposition political parties welcomed the resolution as timely and expressed their commitment to cooperate with its implementation. The Prime Minister of Ethiopia was reported in the media to have described the resolution as a sign of the frustration of the regional and international community over the parties’ continued intransigence in the peace process. He reportedly also cautioned President Kiir and Riek Machar that “the region and the international community will not stand by and watch a humanitarian and political crisis in South Sudan continue”. Moreover, in its communiqués issued on 12 and 24 March, respectively, the African Union Peace and Security Council took note of resolution 2206 (2015) and reiterated its readiness to impose sanctions against all parties that threaten the peace, security or stability of South Sudan.
Other political developments
- Concurrently, in order to initiate the implementation of the Agreement on the Reunification of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and the related road map, signed at the intra-SPLM party dialogue in Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania, on 21 January and 16 February respectively, President Kiir issued three decrees on 24 February. The decrees announced a unilateral ceasefire until 10 April, a general amnesty for “all those waging war against the State” until the end of March, and the rescission of the dismissal of SPLM party cadres, including the formerly detained SPLM leaders — officially ending their exile and unfreezing their personal bank accounts. The ceasefire did not entirely hold, and the timeframe proposed for the return of opposition leaders and the former detainees to Juba expired on 2 April without result. On 1 April, the former detainees argued that the presidential decrees lacked clarity and were not in line with the Arusha Agreement.
- The Government also worked to galvanize regional support for its sovereignty and territorial integrity. In a position paper presented to the tenth ordinary meeting of the Inter-ministerial Regional Committee of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region in Angola, on 11 March, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, accused unnamed neighbouring States of destabilizing South Sudan, insisting that SPLM/A in Opposition constitutes a threat to regional security, and urged countries in the region to “recognize and designate the rebel armed group as negative forces”. He also urged them to adopt a collective regional approach to restoring peace and security in South Sudan.
- On the domestic front, on 19 February, the Council of Ministers introduced a constitutional amendment seeking parliamentary consent to postpone the country’s presidential and general elections for two years, until 30 June 2017. On 24 March, the National Legislature adopted the amendment entitled “Transitional Constitution, 2011 (Amendment Bill, 2015)”, extending the tenure of the Office of the President, the National Legislature and the State Legislative Assemblies by three years, until 9 July 2018. Similarly, the mandate of the National Constitutional Review Commission was extended until 31 December 2017. Subsequently, the State Legislative Assemblies of Upper Nile and Eastern Equatoria, on 30 March and 8 April respectively, voted to amend their state constitutions, extending their own and the incumbent state governors’ terms for a further three years. SPLM/A in Opposition, the National Alliance of opposition political parties, and the former detainees, in separate statements issued on 26 March, 30 March and 4 April respectively, rejected the term extensions of the Presidency and national and state legislatures as unconstitutional.
- On 13 April, President Kiir relieved the Minister of the Interior and Wildlife Services, Aleu Ayeny Aleu, and the caretaker Governor of Northern Bahr el-Ghazal State, Kuel Aguer Kuel, of their duties. The Deputy Governor of Northern Bahr el‑Ghazal State has been appointed as the new caretaker Governor, while the ministerial position remains vacant.
- To ease mounting financial pressures in the country, on 25 March, the National Legislative Assembly endorsed a request by the Government to secure a loan of US$ 500 million from the Qatar National Bank. The current fiscal year has seen national oil production halved. This, together with declining international oil prices and the continued remittance of oil tariffs and transit fees to the Sudan in accordance with the Transitional Financial Arrangement signed in September 2012, has resulted in a significant reduction of revenue for the Government. Concurrently, the generation of non-oil revenues remains at lower levels than foreseen in the current budget, while the rising cost of the ongoing conflict continued to skew Government expenditure towards security, at the expense of funding for other sectors.
III. Security situation
- Fighting between the two parties continued during the reporting period and was for the most part concentrated in the greater Upper Nile region. Government advances largely focused on regaining control of territory in the north and east of Upper Nile State, while the operations of SPLM/A in Opposition focused on repelling Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) advances south and south-east of Bentiu, attempting to regain control of Ayod in central Jonglei and pressing forward towards the oil fields in northern Unity State.
Upper Nile State
- The situation in Upper Nile State remained volatile, with SPLA advances into Longochuk County, clashes in Manyo, Renk and Nassir counties, and an outbreak of inter-communal violence between the Dinka and Shilluk communities. SPLA and SPLM/A in Opposition clashed in Halof, near Kaka in Manyo County, on 10 and 16 February. After two days of shelling in Renk town on 6 and 7 March and fighting near Kaka on 5 March, SPLA, supported by Shilluk militias, took control of Wadekona after reportedly crossing south-west from Renk County and north from the direction of Kaka. Following SPLA claims that Opposition forces shelled SPLA positions 25 km north of Wadekona on 10 March, SPLA launched an offensive operation in the area on 15 March. On the same day, SPLA also reportedly advanced from southern Melut into Longochuk County, clashing with Opposition forces and causing civilians to flee from Mathiang. On 2 April, SPLA assumed control of Wunyok, Longochuk County, following reported clashes with the Opposition. In Nassir County, UNMISS observed numerous exchanges of heavy firing between SPLA-held areas in Nassir town and Opposition-held areas south of the Sobat River, with SPLA also stating that its forces shelled areas to the east and north-east of Nassir. On several occasions, SPLA initiated firing to cover re-supply flights arriving at the airstrip. UNMISS also observed SPLA soldiers burning tukuls in the vicinity of Nassir town on 27 March and 8 April. In Makal County, on 16 February, an estimated 1,000 individuals, including an unknown number of children, were reportedly forcibly recruited by militia allied with SPLA (see para. 43 below).
- In the border area between Fashoda and Akoka counties, Shilluk and Dinka community members, supported by militiamen affiliated with the SPLA units in the area, clashed over a long-standing land dispute on 1 and 2 April. As a result of the violence, an estimated 4,500 civilians have sought refuge in the UNMISS protection of civilians site in Malakal. Government authorities deployed to the area have helped to calm tensions and stop the violence. In the absence of an agreement to resolve historical grievances, however, inter-communal violence in the Malakal area remains a distinct possibility.
- In Unity State, clashes continued near the state capital Bentiu. UNMISS also observed considerable movements of SPLA and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) elements into Bentiu. On 13 February, fighting occurred in several villages between Bentiu and Guit, allegedly leading to the deaths of 10 civilians and the capture of several SPLM/A in Opposition fighters. More clashes were reported on 23 March. On 17 March, small arms, machine guns and shells were fired from north of Rubkona southwards towards Bentiu. One rocket-propelled grenade exploded inside the UNMISS protection site. During the fighting and concurrent unrest in the protection site, nine internally displaced persons were injured, three of whom sustained bullet wounds. SPLA then clashed with Opposition forces near the perimeter of the UNMISS protection site. Tensions increased between SPLA and internally displaced persons at the UNMISS protection site on 10 March, after SPLA shot two displaced persons grazing cattle outside the protection site, killing one of them, and stole 25 cattle. Late in March, Opposition forces reportedly advanced towards Tor in Pariang County, and the area north of the Unity Oil Fields in Rubkona County. On 10 April, SPLA and Opposition forces clashed at the Tor‑Bonky junction in Pariang.
- Tensions also flared in Jonglei State with SPLA and Opposition forces clashing in the eastern and northern parts of the State. On 25 March, the parties clashed in Ayod town, which remains under SPLA control. Fighting was also reported in Fangak County near New Fangak. Furthermore, inter-communal tensions have increased between Murle from the Greater Pibor Administrative Area and the Dinka Bor. Dinka Bor youth, allegedly encouraged by state authorities, have reportedly mobilized to defend Bor town from suspected Murle attacks. No further progress has been made in operationalizing the Greater Pibor Administrative Area, owing mainly to financial constraints and skills shortages. Meanwhile, the integration of South Sudan Democratic Movement/South Sudan Defence Army (SSDM/SSDA)-Cobra faction forces into SPLA has been completed in three counties of the Administrative Area, namely Pibor, Gumuruk and Likuangole, and continues in the remaining four. The Uganda People’s Defence Forces maintained their military presence in support of the Government of South Sudan around Bor.
Western and Northern Bahr el-Ghazal States
- In Raga County, Western Bahr el-Ghazal, areas around Katta were reportedly bombed by Sudan Armed Forces aircraft targeting JEM elements between 28 February and 16 March. Opposition forces reportedly also launched two attacks in the area on 4 and 10 March. On 21 March, an aircraft sighted over Aweil North and Aweil East counties, Northern Bahr el-Ghazal State, reportedly bombed Majok Nyich in Aweil East County. Further aerial bombings are alleged to have occurred on 23 March and 6 April in Delieba, Raga County, and on 8 and 9 April in Nyinbouli and Achana in Aweil West County and Mayom Angok in Aweil North County. Opposition forces led by General Dau Aturjong, former SPLA soldiers who deserted in April 2014 and Sudanese armed groups are allegedly operating in the surrounding border areas.
- Inter-communal tensions rooted in competition over grazing pasture for cattle and access to water, and exacerbated by weak rule of law institutions, a lack of education and other livelihood opportunities, and prevailing population displacements, continued to be witnessed in the central and southern states of South Sudan.
- In Lakes State, the cycle of cattle-raiding and small-scale revenge attacks continued among Dinka Agar subclans, resulting in more than 105 deaths, despite mitigation efforts, including a peace conference attended by President Kiir on 14 February. In the most serious incident, on 15 and 16 March, fighting between Dinka subclans in Rumbek Centre, Rumbek East and Rumbek North counties led to the deaths of at least 70 people. Cattle-raiding incidents in northern Lakes State perpetrated by Dinka youth from neighbouring Warrap State and armed Nuer from Unity State also resulted in approximately 100 deaths between 17 February and 5 April.
- In Eastern Equatoria State, Torit County, at least three people were killed and several others were injured during clashes between two communities over a fishing area, in mid-February and early in March. Tensions also escalated between youth and SPLA forces in Magwi County over allegations of arbitrary arrest and disappearances of youth and other community members. In Central Equatoria State, Dinka Bor cattle keepers, as well as SPLA soldiers escorting them, have been linked with at least two clashes with the local population in Juba and Kajo Keji counties over the destruction of crops and competition over grazing land. On 11 March, in Western Equatoria State, Mundri West County, armed Dinka in military uniforms reportedly also raided migrant Mundari cattle keepers originally from Central Equatoria State. Seven people died and 500 cattle were stolen during the incident.
- Humanitarian situation
- As at 13 April, over 2 million people were displaced from their homes, over 1.5 million people inside South Sudan and more than 500,000 to neighbouring countries. Nearly 118,000 people were sheltered inside UNMISS protection sites. The humanitarian aid operation continued to be scaled up to reach more remote locations. By early April, aid agencies provided some form of assistance in 135 locations, 77 of which are located in remote areas.
- The South Sudan Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, a set of standardized tools that aims at classifying the severity and magnitude of food insecurity, estimates that 2.5 million people are currently facing severe food insecurity, with people in the greater Upper Nile State most affected. The overall nutrition situation, particularly of children under 5, in most parts of the country remains above emergency levels including in Upper Nile, Unity, Northern Bahr el‑Ghazal, Jonglei and Warrap States. Malnutrition rates are expected to remain above emergency thresholds in most parts of the country, owing to inadequate food consumption and high levels of disease in the context of constrained service delivery. A total of 21,117 children have been treated so far in 2015 for severe acute malnutrition. Over 40,000 cartons of ready-to-use therapeutic food for the treatment of severe acute malnutrition have already been pre-positioned in anticipation of the rainy season.
- The leading causes of illness among displaced people remained malaria, acute watery diarrhoea, and acute respiratory infection. Viral leishmaniasis (or kala-azar), remains a concern. Since the beginning of 2015, a total of 1,227 cases and 39 deaths have been reported from 16 treatment centres. On 29 March, a measles outbreak was confirmed in the Bentiu protection site. As at 5 April, 130 cases had been reported with two laboratory cases confirmed. A vaccination campaign is ongoing. To ensure continued protection of children against polio throughout the country, the Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and implementing partners conducted the first two rounds of the 2015 Polio National Immunization Days from 24 to 27 February and from 24 to 27 March, which targeted a combined total of 3.4 million children under 5.
- More than 4.1 million people are in critical need of water sanitation and hygiene services. The majority of people in need are located in remote rural locations with little or no services. Almost 40 per cent of water points are not functioning and the required repair and maintenance capacity is limited. In some protection of civilians sites, including Bentiu and Malakal, the continuous influx of internally displaced people is increasing pressure on facilities and lowers the standard of services provided. The numbers of internally displaced people are set to rise in the coming months as fighting continues.
- The current conflict has exacerbated already limited access to education. Since December 2013, approximately 400,000 school-aged children have dropped out of school and 70 per cent of the schools in the key conflict-affected states have closed. To date, 86 schools continue to be occupied, including 29 by combatants and 53 by internally displaced persons. A Back-to-Learning Initiative is targeting out-of-school children and adolescents, including the approximately 3,000 children associated with the SSDM/SSDA-Cobra faction, as part of their reintegration into communities.
- From February to early in April 2015 approximately 4,200 refugees, 80 per cent of whom are women and children, arrived in Yida from Southern Kordofan, Sudan. The Government of South Sudan and UNHCR are working to address the latest influx. At the end of March, there were nearly 260,000 refugees in South Sudan, the vast majority from the Sudan, living in six camps across the northern states of Unity and Upper Nile.
- The Humanitarian Response Plan for 2015 requires $1.8 billion to reach 4.1 million people with assistance. On 9 February, donors pledged $529 million at a high-level event in Nairobi organized jointly by IGAD and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. This brought the total of pledges and commitments for South Sudan and South Sudanese refugees since the beginning of the year to $618 million. By 13 April the Humanitarian Response Plan remained 12 per cent funded.
- Active hostilities and insecurity continued to disrupt humanitarian response activities and restrict road, riverine and air access. On 22 occasions, since the beginning of the year, humanitarian organizations have suspended activities because of active hostilities, including reducing staff levels or pausing programmes in affected areas. Road and river checkpoints and demands for illegal taxes or extortion, imposing additional costs for humanitarian convoys, and affecting the movement of humanitarian goods and personnel, as well as the ability of civilians to access assistance, continued. Violence against aid workers, facilities and assets, including assaults, threats, harassment, detention and abduction of personnel, were also regularly recorded. Humanitarian actors have continued to raise these security and access concerns with both parties. Since the beginning of the year, there have been 70 reported incidents of violence against humanitarian personnel or assets, 18 cases of detention, and two cases of abduction.
- Implementation of the reprioritized mandated tasks of the Mission
- Protection of civilians
- UNMISS continues to pursue a three-tiered strategy to ensure the protection of civilians. In this regard, the Mission continued to assess risks to the civilian population, particularly displaced persons, resulting from prevailing threats and related vulnerabilities of local communities, in all accessible areas of the country.
- Under the first tier, protection through dialogue and engagement, UNMISS continued to work closely with United Nations country team partners and non‑governmental organizations to provide assistance in support of local conflict resolution efforts. During the reporting period, UNMISS civil affairs teams held 337 meetings with local authorities, community leaders, youth and women across the 10 States, including in Opposition-held territory, to identify conflict threats and mitigation measures. UNMISS also organized 26 conflict mitigation events, including inter-communal dialogue activities, workshops and roundtable discussions, assisting 3,385 cattle camp youth, community leaders, and internally displaced persons both at UNMISS protection of civilians sites and at other locations, to develop conflict management skills and to engage in resolving inter‑communal disputes. In Lakes State, UNMISS conducted workshops for cattle camp youth in Cueibet County and village chiefs from Yirol County, and engaged peace actors, with a view to developing a platform for durable peace. Likewise, in Western Equatoria State, UNMISS continued to promote inter-communal dialogue to peacefully resolve issues arising from the presence of internally displaced persons in the area. In Magwi County, Eastern Equatoria State, following allegations of intimidation and detention of youth by the security forces, UNMISS engaged state and community leaders, as well as security officials, with a view to de-escalating tensions. In Jonglei State, UNMISS delivered a dispute resolution skills workshop for Dinka community leaders in Bor, and continued to engage Nuer and Dinka communities in the greater Bor area to promote peaceful coexistence.
- Under tier two, provision of physical protection, UNMISS provided protection to nearly 118,000 internally displaced persons at six protection of civilians sites, including 53,000 in Bentiu, 34,000 in Juba and 27,000 in Malakal. While a marginal number of displaced persons have voluntarily left some of the UNMISS sites, insecurity has concurrently led to new arrivals. In Bentiu, for example, biometric verification showed an increase of 22,000 displaced persons. An assessment to determine the scope of new displacement versus the temporary influx of civilians seeking access to humanitarian services at the protection site is pending.
- Inter-communal tensions, community leadership struggles, youth gang violence and threats against humanitarian service providers and UNMISS staff continue to pose serious challenges in many of the UNMISS protection sites. During the reporting period, a total of 410 security incidents were reported, including incidents of murder, theft, assault, domestic violence and public disorder. Over 22 UNMISS police were injured in the process of maintaining security at the protection of civilians site in Juba, while another six were injured at other sites, during the month of February. On 9 February, clashes between youth groups resulted in the death of one youth at the Bentiu site. On 24 March, similar youth violence led to the explosion of a hand grenade inside the protection site, injuring 10 people. Of particular concern is sexual, gender-based and domestic violence, including the exploitation of young girls and women, by male internally displaced persons. To mitigate these issues, UNMISS is streamlining referral pathways with humanitarian protection partners to provide efficient emergency response services to victims of sexual, gender-based and domestic violence. The Mission also implemented conflict transformation trainings and peace dialogues at the Bentiu, Malakal and Bor protection sites.
- UNMISS continues to administer four holding facilities for the temporary isolation of internally displaced persons suspected of having committed serious crimes, at the UNMISS protection sites in Juba, Bentiu, Malakal and Bor. As at 13 April, 63 suspects were held in those facilities, 8 in Juba, 36 in Bentiu, 18 in Malakal and one in Bor. UNMISS has yet to agree with the Government on a framework for the transfer of detainees to national authorities. During the reporting period, some of the detainees were released and their cases handled under community-led informal mitigation and dispute resolution mechanisms. In Juba, nine offenders representing a significant threat to UNMISS staff and their communities were expelled from the protection site, after a detailed human rights risk assessment confirming they were not under threat of violence outside the site.
- UNMISS further enhanced efforts to deter violence against civilians beyond UNMISS premises and project its presence throughout South Sudan. Protection activities included the conduct of 6,048 short-duration, 99 long-duration, and 23 dynamic air patrols. In parts of Upper Nile, Unity and Jonglei States where Opposition forces have been operating, UNMISS military personnel conducted 22 air patrols and 17 days of patrolling on the Nile River. As part of its efforts to ensure proactive engagement with vulnerable communities, having recently established forward operating bases in Malakal, UNMISS is assessing options and seeking the approval of the relevant authorities for the establishment of similar facilities in Bentiu and Bor.
- The United Nations Mine Action Service conducted surveys on clearance of explosive remnants of war at Bentiu, Rubkona, Mankien and in Mayom County, in Unity State. It also conducted non-technical surveys and explosive ordnance disposal in Malakal town and its vicinity in Upper Nile State. During operations in Jonglei State early in March, cluster bomb sub-munitions were discovered in the village of Totel (10 km south of Bor). In total, during the period from 10 February to 8 April, the Mine Action Service released 2,376,132 m2 of safe land; destroyed 982 landmines, 12,172 explosive remnants of war and 74,077 items of small arms ammunition; and provided risk education to 46,818 civilians (14,520 boys, 14,390 girls, 9,199 men and 8,709 women).
- Under tier three, UNMISS and the humanitarian country team supported the establishment of a protective environment and the development of sustainable solutions for the eventual safe and voluntary relocation of displaced persons residing in UNMISS protection of civilians sites. UNMISS and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) continued to provide technical support, in line with the human rights due diligence policy, to the confidence- and trust-building policing strategy of the Inspector General of Police. This pilot initiative is aimed at improving the security environment in selected neighbourhoods in Juba to facilitate voluntary returns. It included the commencement of a screening and verification process for national police personnel to carry out protection-related tasks. Additional support has focused on the operationalization of the emergency call centre, and the preparation of sensitization workshops to be delivered to national police personnel in the areas of human rights, community policing concepts, conflict mitigation and protection of civilians.
- In February and March, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in partnership with the Government Directorate of Nationality, Passports and Immigration, as well as UNMISS, processed “temporary stay” permits for foreign nationals residing at one of the UNMISS protection sites in Juba. The permit legalizes the presence of those foreign nationals for six months, and is subject to extension. During the same exercise, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) conducted pre-investigations of those with potential asylum claims. A refugee status determination may follow.
- UNMISS and UN-Women continued their engagement with State and non‑State actors for consistent implementation of the women and peace and security agenda outlined in Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) and its reaffirming resolutions. Training was organized at four UNMISS protection of civilians sites for community watch groups and community leaders to respond to incidents of early or forced marriage, sexual and gender-based violence, discrimination and sexual assault. Efforts further focused on establishing networks of male advocates in all 10 States of South Sudan. UNDP provided support for the national police special protection units to improve response to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, prosecution for which continues to be low. The National Action Plan for the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) has yet to be formally launched.
- Discussions on transitional solutions also progressed, headway being made in assessing the option of assisted voluntary relocations of internally displaced persons from protection of civilians sites in Wau and Bor. An inter-agency analysis, which entailed consultations with internally displaced persons, reviewed and discounted a number of possible locations, on the basis of on criteria such as security and the availability of basic services. Three locations — Leer in Unity State, Akobo in Jonglei State and Pagak in Upper Nile State — all currently controlled by SPLM/A in Opposition were found feasible. Local authorities and communities have also expressed their willingness to receive and support internally displaced persons coming from Wau and Bor. Currently, UNMISS and the humanitarian country team are working on the operational details for these relocation operations, and implementing mitigation measures to address potential protection concerns.
- Human rights monitoring and reporting
- UNMISS continued to investigate reports of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, as well as human rights abuses, in connection with the ongoing conflict. Interviews with displaced persons arriving at the Malakal protection of civilians site from the Pigi and Fangak areas of Jonglei State indicate that the hostilities that occurred in those areas in November and December 2014 may have resulted in serious human rights violations by Government forces, including the killing of civilians and destruction of property. Subsequent integrated missions to the area, including Nyirol County in Jonglei State, confirmed significant displacement and revealed that the impact of the hostilities on civilians may have been more severe than originally reported, including with respect to the number of civilians displaced.
- In Unity State, UNMISS also investigated incidents of alleged shelling by Government forces, reportedly accompanied by shootings and killings of civilians, looting of livestock and conflict-related sexual violence, in at least 10 villages south of Bentiu between 31 December 2014 and 10 January 2015. Repeated efforts by human rights officers to verify reports that five individuals associated with opposition forces were being detained at the SPLA division headquarters in Rubkona following fighting on 13 February in Ngoany village, south of Bentiu, were unsuccessful. On 23 February, UNMISS was informed by SPLA that two of the detainees had been released, but SPLM/A in Opposition interlocutors reported that the detainees had not returned to them. The continued denial of access by UNMISS, combined with past reports of ill-treatment by SPLA, raises significant concerns about the whereabouts and welfare of those detainees.
- Despite assurances from both the Government and the opposition that they would refrain from the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict, numerous reports were received of child recruitment, as well as of forced recruitment by both sides. During the reporting period, 19 incidents of recruitment and use, abduction, killing, and sexual violence perpetrated against children and military use of schools were reported, affecting 1,837 children (1,060 boys and 777 girls). In total, 11 of those incidents, affecting 1,698 children (921 boys and 777 girls), were verified. Following advocacy and extensive nationwide verification missions by the joint United Nations-Government National Technical Committee on the implementation of the United Nations-SPLA recommitment agreement, 13 schools previously reported under military use were vacated in February and March 2015. Despite these positive developments, however, 11 new incidents of military use of schools have been recorded in 2015, and 29 schools reportedly remain under military use by parties to the conflict in six States — Central Equatoria, Eastern Equatoria, Jonglei, Upper Nile, Lakes and Unity — affecting more than 10,000 children.
- The release of children by the SSDM/SSDA-Cobra faction troops within the Greater Pibor Administrative Area continued. To date, 1,314 of an expected 3,000 children associated with the faction have been released since late January. In February 2015, the United Nations also received reliable information from a child protection partner of the release of 18 boys from SPLM/A in Opposition through an informal process in Leer, Unity State.
- In Makal County, Upper Nile State, on 16 February, an estimated 1,000 individuals, including a number of children, were abducted from a school and an internally displaced persons site in Wau Shilluk, allegedly by elements from Johnson Olonyi’s armed Shilluk militia, allied to SPLA, and forcibly recruited. UNMISS visited the area together with UNHCR on 20 February to gather further information and speak to witnesses. Late in February, President Kiir gave assurances to my Special Representative that the recruitment of children was against SPLA practice and that he would take action. On 10 March, the joint United Nations-Government National Technical Committee was informed by local authorities in Wau Shilluk that hundreds of civilians, among them 36 children, had been seized on 16 February by SPLA in an exercise aimed at identifying deserters, but that the children had later been released. Those claims could not be verified as the Committee was unable to meet the children, and subsequent UNMISS human rights monitoring missions to the area have been postponed owing to security constraints.
- Following the signing on 11 October 2014 by the Government of South Sudan and the United Nations of a joint communiqué to address conflict-related sexual violence, the Government appointed the Minister in the Office of the President as High-level Focal Point. It subsequently established a Joint Technical Working Group, comprising relevant ministries and national institutions, the United Nations and civil society organizations, to develop a comprehensive implementation plan for the joint communiqué. The Joint Technical Working Group held its first meetings on 10 and 17 March 2015, and five task forces have been established on various thematic issues to speed up the implementation of the joint communiqué.
- Threats and harassment of the media and interference with the activities of civic organizations continued during the reporting period, raising serious concerns about the deteriorating state of freedom of the press and association in South Sudan. On 16 February, the Minister of Information and Government spokesperson, Michael Makuei, threatened to close down the United Nations radio station, Miraya, in the context of broader threats and intimidation against media outlets which have reported opposition views. The threat against Radio Miraya was withdrawn after a meeting of my Special Representative with the Minister of Information. Meanwhile, the Nation Mirror remained closed after being shut down by the National Security Service on 16 February.
- The heavy deployment of Government security forces in areas less affected by conflict, reportedly in response to insecurity and inter-communal violence, gave rise to human rights concerns. In Eastern Equatoria State, following the deployment of SPLA to the areas of Pageri Payam and Nimule in November, in response to the reported presence of armed opposition forces and tensions between the Madi and Dinka communities, UNMISS received allegations of the harassment, intimidation, arrest and detention of local community members. In Magwi County, preliminary information gathered by UNMISS indicated that clashes between SPLA and members of the community on 22 and 23 February had resulted in the death of an SPLA member, serious injury to 21 civilians and 14 SPLA members, the burning of around 150 houses and the flight of reportedly some 2,000 civilians from the area.
- Continued challenges to the administration of justice in accordance with international human rights standards were also noted. In Jonglei and Western Equatoria States, UNMISS was informed of the intended closure or effective non‑functioning of courts due to financial constraints. This included the high court in Jonglei State, which was reportedly without judicial personnel as from 6 March, and the county court in Mundri West in Western Equatoria State as from 13 March. The absence of judicial personnel in those areas risks exacerbating an already severe problem of prolonged and arbitrary detention, an example of which includes the case of three juveniles detained in Jonglei State since mid-2014.
- Creating the conditions for delivery of humanitarian assistance
- During the reporting period, UNMISS worked with humanitarian partners to improve the conditions of transport infrastructure, including critical roadways and airstrips, in support of vital humanitarian operations in the dry season. Two main supply routes, one from Juba to Bor and another from Wau to Bentiu, have been rehabilitated to allow delivery of cargo and humanitarian assistance. UNMISS is also working with the United Nations Office for Project Services and the World Food Programme to extend the Bentiu airstrip and make it suitable for transport aircraft to land during the rainy season.
- UNMISS also continued investing substantial resources to enhance living and security conditions at existing protection of civilians sites, complementing the extensive investment by humanitarian partners and the donor community. IOM and UNMISS have been working to construct the extension of the UNMISS protection of civilians sites in Bentiu and Malakal, as well as to upgrade the drainage system at the Bentiu site. This work, which has made significant progress, will improve the living conditions for displaced persons in advance of the upcoming rainy season. UNMISS also continues to enable humanitarian partners to operate within the protection of civilians sites. In Bentiu and Malakal, UNMISS provides physical protection, office, warehousing and accommodation space because of the high security risks in those areas. A total of 5,608 force protection tasks were undertaken to protect road convoys, barges and humanitarian activities during the reporting period.
- The Mine Action Service continued to play a key role in creating conditions for the delivery of humanitarian assistance through route assessments, surveys and/or mine clearance of 1,096 km of routes in Unity, Upper Nile, Jonglei, Warrap, Central and Eastern Equatoria and Western Bahr el-Ghazal States. The Service’s operations along major supply routes ensured safer and more efficient humanitarian aid delivery.
- Supporting the implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement
- UNMISS continued to provide the IGAD Monitoring and Verification Mechanism with protection, logistical and administrative support upon request, including direct support to the IGAD Joint Technical Committee’s investigation mission to Renk, Upper Nile State. IGAD is continuing to refine its operations model in the light of its reduced funding and financial constraints. Some of the current logistics and life support for the IGAD Monitoring and Verification Teams, provided under bilateral arrangements, is expected to be withdrawn as from 24 May 2015. At the request of IGAD, UNMISS is facilitating the provision of support services (water, food, fuel, electrical power and medical cover) for IGAD Monitoring and Verification Teams co-located at UNMISS bases.
- From its deployment on 1 April 2014 until 10 April 2015, the Monitoring and Verification Mechanism has investigated a total of 38 incidents that have resulted in violations of the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities of 23 January 2014. Nineteen violations are attributed to SPLA and 23 to SPLM/A in Opposition, 5 of the 38 incidents having resulted in violations by both parties. One incident remains to be verified.
- Mission staffing and status of deployment of surge capacity
- As at 13 April, the actual strength of UNMISS civilian personnel stood at 2,332, including 774 international staff members, 1,186 national staff members and 372 United Nations Volunteers. UNMISS police strength stood at 1,099 of the authorized 1,323 officers, including 534 individual police officers, 57 corrections officers and 508 officers in formed police units. The Mission expects to reach its full capacity of formed police unit personnel in June with the arrival of the three formed police units from Ghana, Nepal and Rwanda.
- As at 13 April, UNMISS military troop strength stood at 11,238. A total of 4,077 of the 5,500 surge troops have been deployed. The deployment of the 700‑strong Chinese battalion was completed on 8 April. The deployment of the riverine unit from Bangladesh will be completed with the arrival of contingent-owned equipment and personnel in Juba by 9 May and Malakal in June 2015. The deployment of the additional 400 Ghanaian troops and the remaining 280 of the 310 additional members of the Kenyan battalion will be completed in July. The deployment of three utility helicopters from Sri Lanka and five tactical armed helicopters from Rwanda and Ethiopia will also be completed by July, subject to no further delays in the deployment of contingent-owned equipment and the full cooperation of the Government of South Sudan. These delays continue to constrain projected operations and hamper the generation of full Mission capability of units already deployed to the Mission area.
- In accordance with the United Nations zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse, UNMISS delivered mandatory training within the Mission area to all categories of personnel, in addition to conducting risk assessment activities aimed at preventing sexual exploitation and abuse. In addition, UNMISS conducted a robust outreach and sensitization campaign for the general population on the United Nations standards of conduct expected of all UNMISS personnel.
VII. Violations of the status-of-forces agreement, international humanitarian law and security of United Nations personnel
- During the reporting period, UNMISS recorded a total of 50 violations of the status-of-forces agreement. Of the 50 incidents, 28 related to restrictions on movement, affecting land, air and riverine operations. Other violations included threats to UNMISS members and premises, harassment, assault, arrest and detention of UNMISS members, and confiscation of UNMISS property including impoundment of vehicles. Of particular concern is the fact that 40 of the reported violations were perpetrated by Government security forces, including SPLA and the national police. In addition, 12 incidents, largely related to restrictions of UNMISS air and riverine operations, were committed by SPLM/A in Opposition forces.
- On at least three occasions in February, groups of SPLA soldiers, usually in military pick-up trucks, have randomly fired gunshots into the air in front of the UNMISS base and protection site in Bentiu, Unity State. On 9 March, during clashes between SPLA and armed youth in Nassir, Upper Nile State, small arms fire hit the sentry outposts, as well as some containers in the accommodation portion of the UNMISS camp. On 17 March, during clashes between SPLA and SPLM/A in Opposition in Bentiu, a number of rockets landed inside the UNMISS protection site. Such action poses a direct threat to the safety and security of UNMISS personnel and to the civilians sheltered at the protection site. Furthermore, it constitutes an unwarranted interference with the implementation of the UNMISS protection of civilians mandate.
- As at 8 April, the three national staff members who were arrested in August and October 2014 remain in custody at the headquarters of the National Security Service in Juba. While UNMISS has been granted regular access to the detainees and monitors their well-being, the Government has yet to notify the Mission of the outcome of its investigations or the charges against them. The UNMISS national independent contractor who was abducted on 10 October while working at the UNMISS air terminal in Malakal, Upper Nile State, as well as a United Nations agency staff member abducted from Malakal airport on 16 October, are still missing. All efforts by UNMISS to ascertain their fate or whereabouts from the Government have proved unsuccessful. On 1 April, two United Nations agency national staff and one national contractor disappeared in Upper Nile State. The three personnel were driving vehicles in a humanitarian convoy travelling between Melut and Akoka, when their vehicles were reported to have been commandeered by SPLA forces to transport wounded soldiers. The United Nations continues to engage with the relevant authorities on the matter.
- UNMISS continued to formally notify the Government on a regular basis of these violations through notes verbales and meetings with senior government officials. The monthly matrix of incidents is also shared with the Government. Yet despite these efforts, to date, the Government has not informed the Mission of the outcome of any investigations it has committed itself to undertake on those violations.
VIII. Financial aspects
- The General Assembly, by its resolution 69/260 of 29 December 2014, appropriated the amount of $1,097,315,100 for the period from 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2015. As at 17 April 2015, unpaid assessed contributions to the Special Account for UNMISS amount to $247.8 million. Total outstanding assessed contributions for all peacekeeping operations at the same date amount to $2,167.1 million. As at 17 April 2015, reimbursement of troop-contributing Governments for troop and contingent-owned equipment costs has been made for the periods to 28 February 2015 and 31 December 2014, respectively, in accordance with the quarterly payment schedule.
- Observations and recommendations
- I am profoundly disappointed by the breakdown of the peace talks on 6 March. Sixteen months of IGAD-led negotiations ended without a peace settlement, owing to the continued intransigence of South Sudan’s political leaders and their failure to see beyond their personal ambitions and put the people of South Sudan first. This, together with the continuing violations of the cessation of hostilities agreement by both parties, despite repeated affirmations of their commitment to cease conflict and negotiate a peaceful settlement, is deeply disturbing.
- I take note of the three-year extension of the tenure of the Office of the President, the National Legislature and the State Legislative Assemblies until 9 July 2018. This extension should not disincentivize the Government from making the compromises necessary to reach a peace agreement.
- In view of the increasingly unstable situation, I appreciate the sustained efforts and vital role played by the IGAD mediation, as well as other partners, including IGAD Heads of State and Government, the Troika countries, China, the United Republic of Tanzania, South Africa, the African Union and the European Union, to bring peace to South Sudan. I reiterate my support for the intention of IGAD to expand the mediation to include other partners in order to sustain efforts to keep the parties engaged in peaceful dialogue. Months of negotiations have delivered a road map for peace. Still, the responsibility to seize this opportunity, to end the violence and pave the way for the restoration of stability lies with the parties to the conflict. The United Nations stands ready to provide additional support to the talks, as requested by IGAD. 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.
- Security developments on the ground are increasingly worrisome. Government and SPLM/A in Opposition forces have continued to engage in active hostilities in strategic locations, particularly in Unity and Upper Nile States. I am deeply concerned that both parties have mobilized new recruits. Reports of the ongoing recruitment and abduction of children are extremely worrisome. These developments reflect an apparent belief by both parties that their interests are better served by improving their positions on the ground through military means than by making meaningful concessions at the negotiation table. I therefore reiterate my call upon President Kiir and Riek Machar to cease all military operations immediately, release all children mobilized within their ranks and engage in meaningful dialogue on all outstanding issues towards the establishment of a transitional government of national unity. Should the parties fail to show willingness to compromise, and continue giving priority to military confrontation, those responsible will have to face the consequences. In this regard, I have taken note of the unanimous adoption by the Security Council of resolution 2206 (2015) on 3 March, establishing a targeted sanctions regime for those seeking to obstruct the peace process in South Sudan.
- Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation remains dire. Over 2 million people have been displaced from their homes as a result of the protracted insecurity and the numbers are rising. The negative impact of the conflict on the economy is further exacerbating the already desperate living conditions of millions of vulnerable South Sudanese. I urge the parties to the conflict to guarantee the safety, security and unrestricted freedom of movement of United Nations and associated personnel, throughout the territory of South Sudan, as well as the full, safe and unhindered access of relief personnel, equipment and supplies to all those in need, particularly internally displaced persons and refugees. Any hostile act against United Nations and associated personnel is unacceptable. In this regard, I call on the Government to ensure the immediate release, without harm, of the three missing United Nations agency personnel, two contractors and three UNMISS staff members who remain in arbitrary detention. I also remind the parties to the conflict, especially the Government, which has the primary responsibility to protect civilians, of their obligation to ensure a secure environment that will facilitate the eventual safe and voluntary return of internally displaced persons and refugees, and to respect international human rights and humanitarian law.
- Perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses during the conflict must be held accountable. Regrettably, there has been little progress in this area. I, therefore, reiterate my call on the African Union Peace and Security Council to consider the release of the African Union Commission of Inquiry report on South Sudan. In support of the peace negotiations, the Secretariat is finalizing a report outlining options for criminal and transitional justice processes in South Sudan. This should help the parties to determine the precise course of action to be followed to ensure accountability. I intend to bring that report to the attention of the IGAD mediation and the parties and will make it available to the Security Council.
- UNMISS continues to make every effort to implement its protection of civilians mandate under Security Council resolutions 2155 (2014) and 2187 (2014) and to extend its reach beyond UNMISS bases to provide protection to the hundreds of thousands of vulnerable civilians throughout South Sudan in a targeted and prioritized way. In this regard, I renew my earlier calls for troop-contributing countries to expeditiously deploy remaining surge capabilities and military equipment, which are critical to enable UNMISS to deliver its mandated tasks effectively and fully, and I urge the Government of South Sudan to extend its full cooperation to the deployment of those remaining assets.
- As the Security Council considers a further extension of the UNMISS mandate, and in view of the lack of progress towards securing a peaceful settlement of the conflict, coupled with ongoing fighting and civilian displacement on the ground, I recommend that the current mandate be extended for a further six months without major changes.
- In closing, I wish to express my deep appreciation to the military, police and civilian personnel of UNMISS, who, under the able leadership of my Special Representative, Ellen Margrethe Løj, continue to work courageously to protect hundreds of thousands of civilians under threat of physical violence, to safeguard human rights and to facilitate the work of the humanitarian community in delivering assistance to the millions of South Sudanese in need. I particularly thank the troop- and police-contributing countries that have provided much-needed uniformed personnel and assets to the Mission. I also commend the personnel of the United Nations country team and non-governmental organization partners for their steadfast efforts to provide vital humanitarian emergency assistance to the population, under increasingly arduous and challenging conditions.