Adama Dieng, UN special adviser on the prevention of genocide, Adam Dieng, has paid a visit to South Sudan where fighting between rival factions is raging.
South Sudan, which gained independence from Sudan in 2011, has seen political rivalry between South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and his former deputy and leader of the rebel group, Riek Machar, a Nuer, led to the emergence of civil war in 2013 that has often followed ethnic lines.
The United States’ mission to the UN has circulated to the UN Security Council a draft resolution to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan as well as targeted sanctions amid warnings by a senior UN official of possible genocide.
“I saw all the signs that ethnic hatred and targeting of civilians could evolve into genocide if something is not done now to stop it. I urge the Security Council and member states of the region to be united and to take action,” Dieng told the council.
“There is a strong risk of violence escalating along ethnic lines with a potential for genocide. I do not say that lightly,” he said, urging the council to impose an arms embargo.
The UN Security Council has long threatened to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan, but Russia and China, which have veto powers, are skeptical whether such a move would make a difference as the country is already awash with weapons.
“We think that implementing such a recommendation would hardly be helpful in settling the conflict,” Petr Iliichev, Russian deputy ambassador to the UN, said.
“Introducing targeted sanctions against South Sudanese leaders would be the height of irresponsibility now.”
Samantha Power, US ambassador to the UN, told the Security Council that Dieng’s warning should serve as a wake-up call.
“None of us can say we did not see it coming,” she said.
The conflict in South Sudan seems to be one of power struggle and greed for wealth between Salva Kiir and Riek Machar.
The pair signed a peace deal last year, but fighting has continued and Machar fled the country in July.