UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon late Tuesday strongly condemned the commandeering of humanitarian vehicles and the theft of food stocks and other relief items by both Government and anti-Government forces in South Sudan, his press office said in a statement.
Ban was alarmed" by the rising number of fatalities resulting from the continuing fighting in the country and by reports that 200 civilians drowned in the River Nile while fleeing hostilities in Malakal, Upper Nile State.
He also expressed "deep concern" about the rising number of displaced people in the country, which has now surpassed 400,000 and the challenges relief teams are facing in providing life-saving assistance. The UN chief called on all warring parties to cease hostilities and urged them to engage "constructively" with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)-led negotiation process, and do their utmost to prevent civilian casualties, uphold principles of International Humanitarian Law and respect human rights.
He reiterated that those responsible for attacks against civilians, humanitarian workers and UN personnel will be held accountable, and that the United Nations will continue to actively protect civilians applying strict impartiality.
The fighting, which killed over 1,000 people and injured scores more, erupted in the country on December 15th when government soldiers loyal to President Salva Kiir Mayardit, who belongs to the Dinka tribe, clashed with those loyal to his rival, former vice-president Riek Machar, who belongs to the rival tribe Nuer, accusing the latter of staging an attempted coup because he was dismissed last July.