Summary of Latest Reports of Violations of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (COHA), Reporting Period: 31 March – 30 April 2015
May 16, 2015(Nyamilepedia) — During late March and continuing into April, a build-up of Government Forces and weapons was observed by the IGAD Monitoring and Verification Team (MVT) in the Bentiu area. Tensions have been high in the area for some time, with an outbreak of fighting initiated by Government Forces to the south of Bentiu, as specified in Violation 37. From 24 April, the MVT observed troops marching south from Rubkona.
Government Forces Offensive:
On the morning of 27 April, the MVT heard heavy firing to the south. It was later confirmed that Government Forces based in Rubkona had advanced south west towards Nhialdu and south east towards Guit, while Government Forces in Wang Kai (Mayom County) advanced south towards the villages of Wichok and Ngop. Fighting was also reported to the north of Bentiu. The MVT interviewed both parties and was told that by 30 April 2015, Government Forces controlled Nhialdhu in Rubkona County and the town of Guit in Guit County. Public statements from Government Forces confirmed that they had launched offensives and captured these towns from the SPLM/A (IO).
Reports of hostilities continued with evidence that in the second week of May, Government Forces were advancing north into Unity State from Lakes State.
Reported Violations of Article 3: Protection of Civilians
The MVT interviewed Internally Displaced Persons who had fled to the UNMISS POC camp from the fighting in Rubkona and Mayom Counties. They heard first-hand accounts of the killing of civilians, the burning of houses and the stealing of cattle by Government Forces. Credible reports from the UN and other international agencies state that there have been significant Protection of Civilian Violations in the areas taken by Government Forces. These are being investigated further by the MVM, though lack of freedom of movement has hampered investigations.
Articles of COHA violated
Article 1.1: ‘The Parties hereby agree to cease all military actions aimed at each other’. The offensive operations started by Government Forces on 27 April in Unity State constitute a clear and significant violation of the COHA.
The IGAD Office of the Special Envoys condemn the actions of the Government which have precipitated a further humanitarian crisis and caused untold suffering to the people of Unity State. Government Forces are urged in the strongest possible terms to immediately stop all offensive operations in Unity State, and to respect all COHA obligations concerning the Protection of Civilians and Humanitarian Access. This especially applies to areas they occupy which were previously under control of the SPLM/A-IO.