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The Candidate Countries the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia *, Montenegro* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the EFTA countries Iceland and Liechtenstein, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and Georgia align themselves with this statement.
The EU thanks the High Commissioner and the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan for their engagement and reporting on this situation, and welcomes South Sudan's cooperation with the Commission and other UN mechanisms to date.
The EU is profoundly disturbed by the deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation in South Sudan, today torn again by violent conflict and at risk of complete fragmentation and of genocide being committed. Just two days ago the EU expressed its concerns in comprehensive Conclusions on South Sudan adopted by the EU Foreign Affairs Council (FAC).
The EU condemns in the strongest possible terms all the atrocious acts of violence committed, often with an ethnic motivation, in many parts of the country, including killing and maiming of civilians, starvation, burning of villages, sexual and gender-based violence, recruitment and use of child soldiers and attacks on schools, on hospitals and on humanitarian workers. We are appalled by the scale and horrendous nature of gang rapes of women and girls used as a weapon of war by all parties to the conflict.
The EU calls on all parties to lay down their arms and to take decisive steps to end violence, repudiate any speech inciting ethnic hatred, and find a just and inclusive political settlement of their differences on the basis of the 2015 Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict with the aim to strengthen the state's structures in order to protect its population more effectively. We reiterate that all perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses must be held accountable before justice. To this end, we call on the African Union to move forward as quickly as possible with the implementation of the justice and accountability measures in the 2015 peace agreement, in particular the establishment of the African Union Hybrid Court for South Sudan. The EU stands ready to support the establishment of the Court.
The EU is also concerned by attacks on journalists and media workers, increased restrictions on fundamental freedoms and pressure on civil society, human rights defenders and on the media, as well as narrowing their space exercised by the Transitional Government of National Unity. The EU calls on the Transitional Government to uphold its responsibility for the protection of civilians and on all parties to comply strictly with their obligations under international law and to put an end to violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law in South Sudan.
Despite the dire humanitarian situation, with one third of the population severely malnourished almost two million persons internally displaced and thousands of refugees seeking protection in neighbouring countries every day, access restrictions and violence continue to obstruct humanitarian operations. The EU urges all parties to allow and facilitate the full, safe and unhindered provision of humanitarian assistance to all those in need.
The EU also urges all parties to work urgently and constructively with the United Nations, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and its international partners (IGAD Plus), the African Union, and the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission. UNMISS must be allowed to exercise its mandate in full and without hindrance, and the Regional Protection Force established and deployed rapidly, as mandated in UNSC Resolution 2304 (2016).
We encourage South Sudan to continue to extend full cooperation to the Commission, including access to all parts of the country.
Thank you Mr. President.
[*] The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.