Senator Don Meredith is deeply disturbed by recent United Nations reports of the fast deteriorating situation on the ground in South Sudan where ethnically-based atrocities bear striking similarity to that which precipitated the Rwanda genocide that left one million dead 20 years ago. Last week, approximately 60 out of 5,000 women, children, and men and who had sought refuge at a UN base were massacred by armed assailants. That was followed shortly thereafter by the vicious retaliatory slaying of hundreds more innocent people seeking shelter in a mosque, a hospital and other locations including random killings on the streets. The violence appears to have been incited in part by radio broadcasts calling for revenge attacks, including rapes. Senator Meredith ramped up his call for action.
“This is beyond unacceptable! It is absolutely reprehensible,” the Senator explained. “Time and again, I have urged action to stem the tide. Just earlier this month, leaders around the world chanted in seeming chorus about not allowing another Rwanda-like genocide to happen. Yet South Sudan continues right under our nose! Despite the ominous signs, including blatant and shameless calls on the airwaves for summary violence, how long will the international community just sit on our hands? How many more innocent lives have to be lost??”
The United Nations currently has 8,500 troops on the ground, and is now calling for increased capacity to prevent further attacks on its mission which must now deal with overcrowded camps versus resources required to cope with an increasing number of displaced and desperate South Sudanese refugees.
Senator Meredith, a member of the Canada-Africa Parliamentary Association has already made several public appeals for action this year, including holding meetings with South Sudanese diplomatic officials in Washington D.C. and various community leaders and stakeholders in Canada. He has also sought ways to reinforce the role of Canada and the international community towards ending the conflict in Sudan.
“At some point, we have to go beyond words and tacit peacekeeping,” the Senator explained. “I believe the ethnic hostilities have now reached a tipping point. Both sides do not seem interested in any immediate reconciliation. They need to be held accountable. But first, we have to ramp up our efforts and stop this human tragedy before it’s too late!”
Last week, Foreign Minister John Baird addressed recent developments. “Canada expects all parties to respect the UN Mission in South Sudan’s neutral role and facilitate its work on protecting civilians, conflict resolution and peace consolidation. We reiterate our support for UNMISS and its mission to protect those South Sudanese who have chosen to denounce violence.”
Canada has maintained a strong position in ensuring peace and stability in South Sudan since the country’s inception promoting the democratic values of freedom, human rights and the rule of law. The UN Security Council met Wednesday to hold deliberations on peace talks between the South Sudan Government and opposition groups. Those deliberations have been postponed to a later date.
Senator Meredith added, “I strongly support the Government of Canada’s efforts on the ground. I do believe though that it is incumbent on all of us including international partners, as fellow human beings, to do more. Much is at stake. I urge the United Nation Security Council to do what it takes to properly address the conflict in South Sudan. We must do it for the children!!!”