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Pillay urges Sudan and South Sudan to pull back from the brink

GENEVA (17 April 2012) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Tuesday urged the governments of Sudan and South Sudan to stem the violence on both sides before it seriously undermines the hard-won peace agreement that was reached after decades of armed conflict.

Pillay underlined the obligation of both governments under international human rights and humanitarian law to ensure the protection of civilians, and condemned recent attacks by both sides which have resulted in civilian casualties.

“I condemn the indiscriminate aerial bombing by Sudanese forces in civilian areas in South Sudan, including in Mayom and Bentiu in Unity State, resulting in the deaths of at least 8 civilians and many injuries since Saturday,” Pillay said.

“In the past week we have seen an intensification of the use of Antonovs as well as jetfighters dropping bombs and launching rocket attacks, including in areas dangerously close to the offices of international organisations. Such deplorable attacks must stop immediately.”

The High Commissioner said she was also alarmed by South Sudan’s unwarranted occupation of the oil-producing region of Heglig in South Kordofan, as well as reports of a dramatic build-up in the number of northern militia in Abyei over the past few days.

“These are very worrying reports and I call on all parties to work to avoid an escalation of armed confrontation, bearing in mind the dire human rights and humanitarian consequences for civilians,” she said.

“After so many decades of internal conflict, the Sudanese and South Sudanese know all too well the tragic consequences of large-scale violence and displacement and their long-lasting impact on the enjoyment of human rights,” the High Commissioner added.

“I urge the political leadership on both sides to fulfill their obligations under international human rights and international humanitarian law by exercising restraint and ensuring the protection of civilians.”

Pillay supported the call by the Secretary-General to convene the planned presidential summit as soon as possible. She also called for a renewed commitment to the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement from both sides.

“There is still time to pull back from the brink and bring all parties to the table to negotiate diplomatic solutions to disagreements over borders, oil, citizenship and other crucial issues,” she said.

END

OHCHR Country Page - Sudan: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/SDIndex.aspx

OHCHR Country Page - South Sudan: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/SSIndex.aspx

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