EU urges warring parties in S. Sudan to cease hostilities

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JUBA, Feb 18 (Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) on Monday urged South Sudan's warring parties to commit to cessation of hostilities following recent fighting.

The EU in a statement issued in Juba also condemned the recent fighting between Feb.2-3 that left seven rebel soldiers and one civilian dead following clashes between Sudan People's Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) and National Salvation Front (NAS) led by ex-deputy army chief Thomas Cirilo in areas of Kediba, Kanjawa and Wandi in the Central Equatoria region.

"The EU Delegation acknowledges and welcomes the relative calm across the country, but follows with deep concern the ongoing violence in Yei River and Amadi States and condemns violations of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, and the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS) which have taken place, as confirmed by the ceasefire monitoring body CTSAMVM," it said.

Lam Paul Gabriel, SPLA-IO spokesman said in Juba that their forces came under attack by NAS at Kediba, Kanjawa and Wandi but they managed to overpower the attackers from NAS.

"The truth is NAS forces under direct command of Gen. Kenyi Latio and Gen. Azhari Wad Rajab Kagyani attacked Kediba and Kanjawa at 5:00 A.M and 3:00P.M respectively and Wandi on 03/02/2019 at 6:00A.M," said Gabriel.

"They were all repulsed by the SPLA-IO forces. Seven NAS fighters were killed in Kediba while one civilian was killed by their forces in Wandi. The SPLA-IO sustained two minor injuries and no death cases. The aggressors are now being pursued towards Rokon by the SPLA-IO forces," he added.

The EU noted that the impact of the ongoing violence on the lives of civilians is grave and unacceptable as lives are being lost and livelihoods destroyed.

It also added that humanitarian access is being blocked for vulnerable people, citing the recent displacement of about 5,000 civilians who fled into DR Congo following renewed violence in these areas.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said last week that another 6,000 internally displaced persons have been registered by South Sudan in Yei town.

"The EU Delegation, in line with the IGAD statement of 31 January, calls on all the parties to cease hostilities and military preparations immediately, to step up efforts to come to a political solution and to take all possible action to ensure the safety of civilians, their freedom of movement, and to ensure unhindered access to humanitarian actors, UNMISS and CTSAMVM," it said.

The EU added that all parties should implement the ARCSS in a timely manner and in good faith.

South Sudan descended into civil war in late 2013, and the conflict has created one of the fastest growing refugee crises in the world.

The UN estimates that about 4 million South Sudanese have been displaced internally and externally.

In September 2018, South Sudan's conflicting parties signed a peace deal in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. Enditem

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