South Sudan May Plunge Back Into Full-Scale Conflict, UN Warns

Okech Francis

(Bloomberg) -- South Sudan, where warring parties agreed to end five years of conflict, could return to bloodshed despite recent commitments by its leaders to form a power-sharing government, the United Nations warned.

Both armed opposition groups and the government are forcibly recruiting children in Juba and Western Bahr el Ghazal, and in Greater Bahr el Ghazal, respectively, according to Yasmin Sooka, chairwoman of the UN Human Rights Commission for South Sudan.

“Ironically, the prospect of a peace deal has accelerated the forced recruitment of children, with various groups now seeking to boost their numbers before they move into the cantonment sites,” Sooka said in a statement on Monday.

Warring parties are scheduled to form a unity government by Nov. 12 and prepare for democratic elections in the following 36 months. Previously planned for May 12, the joint administration was delayed for six months when they failed to agree on key issues and end the crisis that left 400,000 people dead, displaced 4 million others and exacerbated a reduction in crude production.

Hardliners unwilling to compromise on key issues -- the number of states, their boundaries, and security arrangements -- might sabotage progress toward implementation of the agreement, Sooka said.

“Clearly time is rapidly running out for this to happen and if the resources, including the government’s commitment of $100 million for the implementation of the agreement, are not made available, these issues will remain unresolved, with the potential to plunge the country into full-scale war once again,” she said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Okech Francis in Juba at fokech@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Malingha at dmalingha@bloomberg.net, Helen Nyambura, Hilton Shone

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