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UN chief urges South Sudan leaders to end conflict

July 9, 2014

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon accused South Sudan’s leaders on Tuesday of creating a “man-made crisis” that has killed thousands of people and demanded that they end the violence and resume peace negotiations immediately.

Fighting broke out in the world’s newest nation in December after President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, accused former vice-president Riek Machar, an ethnic Nuer, of trying to oust him in a coup. That sparked months of ethnic attacks and failed cease-fires.

On the eve of South Sudan’s third anniversary of independence from Sudan, the U.N. chief said the hopes of the people have been dashed by the conflict which has left people living in squalor and facing hunger, disease and insecurity, according to U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

“Over 1.3 million people have been driven from their homes and, unless the resources are forthcoming and the parties cooperate, hundreds of thousands face the possibility of famine in the coming months,” Ban’s spokesman warned.

The secretary-general stressed that it is the responsibility of Kiir and Machar, “and within their power,” to stop the bloodshed.

In the South Sudanese capital, Juba, U.N. envoy Hilde Johnson told reporters before leaving at the end of her three-year assignment that “the country has now been set back decades.”

“The gulf between communities is abysmal, and the animosity is worse than we have ever seen at any point in South Sudanese history,” she said, according to the U.N. “As the people of South Sudan prepare to celebrate the third anniversary of their nation’s independence tomorrow, they see a country that is now at grave risk, not only of fighting, but also of failing.”

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