‘Vacate civilian buildings or face punitive measures,’ AU tells S. South armed groups

A group of soldiers leaving for an operation/ Photo: File

April 20, 2020 (Thessherald)– The Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU) at its 917th Meeting held online in recent days, on the situation in South Sudan, urged armed groups on all sides to urgently vacate occupied civilian buildings or risk punitive measures.

“The Peace and Security Council of the African Union warns those armed groups currently occupying civilian buildings/facilities to unconditionally vacate them without further delay so that these facilities can serve their civilian purposes, failing which punitive measures will be imposed against the concerned armed groups,” the continental body said in its strongly worded statement.

The warning comes as the main opposition group, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – IO has reoccupied civilian buildings vacated by government forces in Yei and other surrounding areas.

The African Union called on peace partners and Non-signatories in South Sudan to pool their efforts in combating the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“The AU calls on the parties and all other South Sudanese stakeholders to continue to work together, in order to mitigate the negative impacts of the COVID-19, working closely with Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC); the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNMISS, in order to preserve the gains so far made in the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement,” it stated.

Adding that, “in this context, applauds President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his Government for the timely decisions taken, in particular the appointment of a High-Level Task Force on COVID-19, and urges the Task Force to work closely with Africa CDC and WHO.”

It also stressed the importance of expediting an urgent needs-assessment by African Union experts in an effort to identify the challenges faced in the country and how to overcome them.

“The AU emphasizes the urgency, as South Sudan emerges from the conflict, for the AU Commission to undertake a post-conflict needs assessment mission to the country, in order to jointly identify with the authorities, the priorities and resources required.”

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