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Thursday, 13 November 2014 - Brussels Final edition
Humanitarian situation in South Sudan

European Parliament resolution of 13 November 2014 on the humanitarian situation in South Sudan (2014/2922(RSP))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on South Sudan, in particular that of 16 January 2014 on the situation in South Sudan(1),

–  having regard to the statements of 23 January 2014 and 10 May 2014 by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR), Catherine Ashton, on the situation in South Sudan,

–  having regard to the statements of 28 August 2014 and 31 October 2014 by the spokesperson for the VP/HR on the situation in South Sudan,

–  having regard to Council Decision 2014/449/CFSP of 10 July 2014 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in South Sudan(2),

–  having regard to UN Security Council resolution 2155 (2014),

–  having regard to the interim report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the human rights situation in South Sudan, distributed for discussion by the panel for the 27th session of the UN Human Rights Council,

–  having regard to the Council declaration of 10 July 2014 on South Sudan,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 20 January 2014 and 17 March 2014 on South Sudan,

–  having regard to the statement of 25 September 2014 by the Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva,

–  having regard to the statement of 30 October 2014 by the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon,

–  having regard to the statement of 20 October 2014 by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD),

–  having regard to the resolution issued by the 28th Extraordinary Summit of the IGAD Heads of State and Government on 7 November 2014,

–  having regard to the roadmap for Sudan and South Sudan set out in the communiqué of 24 April 2012 by the African Union Peace and Security Council, which is fully supported by the EU,

–  having regard to the interim report of the African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan, presented on 26-27 June 2014 in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea,

–  having regard to the revised Cotonou Agreement,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

–  having regard to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights,

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas a political conflict started after Salva Kiir, the country’s president, accused his sacked vice-president, Riek Machar, of plotting a coup d’état against him; whereas Riek Machar has denied attempting such a coup;

B.  whereas, according to UN estimates, more than 10 000 people have died during months of fighting, and whereas extraordinary acts of cruelty and ethnic violence amounting to war crimes have been widely reported;

C.  whereas South Sudan is the world’s youngest and most fragile state and ranks second in the Commission’s humanitarian Global Vulnerability and Crisis Assessment Final Index;

D.  whereas the parties to the conflict in South Sudan started negotiations on 7 January 2014 in Addis Ababa, under the auspices of IGAD;

E.  whereas a ceasefire agreement was signed on 23 January 2014 and reconfirmed on 9 May 2014, but continues to be breached without any punitive measures being implemented;

F.  whereas peace talks have yielded little progress in terms of finding a lasting solution, and whereas the UN humanitarian aid coordinator has indicated that the chances of achieving sustainable peace at the political and intercommunity level are not good;

G.  whereas, however, on 7 November 2014 the South Sudanese Government and the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army signed an agreement rededicating themselves to ceasing hostilities, at the risk of sanctions from the IGAD region if the agreement was not respected;

H.  whereas fighting between the forces of President Kiir and rebels loyal to Riek Machar has already resumed with the end of the rainy season and is likely to intensify during the dry season if there is no political solution;

I.  whereas UN Security Council resolution 2155 (2014) expresses deep concern over the large‑scale displacement of people and the deepening humanitarian crisis; whereas this humanitarian crisis risks affecting a much wider region in an area that is already prone to instability, with Sudanese rebel groups and Ugandan troops having already taken part in the fighting; whereas this instability can be addressed only if the root causes are tackled, including extreme poverty, climate change, EU and international geostrategic interests and interventions, unfair distribution of wealth and exploitation of resources;

J.  whereas the majority of the population live in widespread poverty despite the fact that the country is rich in oil and natural resources, with oil exports accounting for more than 70 % of GDP and about 90 % of government revenue; whereas revenues generated from the oil industry have fuelled violent conflicts;

K.  whereas the conflict has led to horrific sexual violence on an alarming scale, as outlined by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Bangura; whereas unconfirmed reports continue to circulate on the recruitment of child soldiers in South Sudan, and whereas children make up half the population of South Sudan;

L.  whereas the UN has declared the situation in South Sudan a level 3 emergency, the worst level of humanitarian crisis;

M.  whereas 3,5 million people in South Sudan have been reached with humanitarian assistance since the beginning of the year; whereas, thanks to a combination of local coping mechanisms and international humanitarian aid, famine has been avoided; whereas, however, the outlook as regards food security for the country is bleak if fighting resumes, especially in Bor and Bentiu, with 2,5 million people expected to continue facing crisis- and emergency‑level food insecurity; whereas women are especially vulnerable to food insecurity, as 57 % of households in the protection sites are headed by women; whereas leading aid agencies, including Oxfam, CARE and Cafod, have warned that parts of South Sudan could fall into famine early next year if fighting resumes;

N.  whereas an estimated 3,8 million South Sudanese people are in need of humanitarian assistance, 1,4 million are internally displaced and more than 470 000 are seeking refuge in neighbouring countries;

O.  whereas the most urgent humanitarian needs are food, clean water, healthcare, shelter, sanitation, hygiene, a response to epidemics (such as cholera, malaria, kala-azar and hepatitis), and protection; whereas increased psychosocial support is needed for survivors of sexual violence;

P.  whereas access to people in need continues to be hampered by hostilities and violence, which also target aid workers and supplies; whereas about 80 % of all healthcare and basic services are provided by non-governmental organisations;

Q.  whereas in September 2014 the Minister for Labour of South Sudan said that all foreign workers would have to leave by mid-October, a statement he later retracted;

R.  whereas the adoption of an ‘NGO bill’ aimed at limiting the space in which NGOs and civil society can work in South Sudan has been postponed to December 2014; whereas, if implemented, the draft ‘NGO bill’ could have major consequences for aid operations at this critical time when the international community is trying to prevent a famine from unfolding;

S.  whereas international humanitarian resources have been stretched to the limit by multiple and prolonged global crises; whereas the international community will not be able, either financially or operationally, to continue to respond to a long-lasting crisis;

T.  whereas the EU has provided more than one third (38 %) of all international contributions in response to the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, with the Commission alone increasing its humanitarian aid budget for the crisis to over EUR 130 million in 2014;

U.  whereas the African Union has appointed a commission of inquiry to investigate the widely reported human rights atrocities;

V.  whereas on 10 July 2014 the EU announced a first round of targeted measures against individuals responsible for obstructing the peace process, breaching the ceasefire agreement and committing gross human rights violations; whereas the EU arms embargo against South Sudan has been maintained;

W.  whereas a democratic political solution should be found to the current conflict, paving the way for democratically agreed institutions to build the new state which came into being after the independence referendum; whereas sustainable peace, post-conflict state-building, and efforts to overcome fragility require a long-term perspective and solid, predictable and stable engagement on the part of the international community;

1.  Firmly denounces the alarming man-made disaster in South Sudan, which contradicts the values and purpose of the country’s liberation movement;

2.  Strongly condemns the resumption of violence and the repeated past violations of the cessation of hostilities agreement, which have caused deaths, injuries and damage among the civilian population and have displaced hundreds of thousands of people in South Sudan, a country that is already fragile and volatile; deplores the weak command and control of the armed forces, which increases the likelihood of further fragmentation of fighting forces, potentially leading to increased violence and non-compliance with peace agreements;

3.  Calls on the international community to honour its funding commitments to South Sudan and the region and to mobilise resources in order to respond immediately to the worsening humanitarian situation in South Sudan; welcomes, in this connection, the EU’s contribution to addressing the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan and asks the Member States to find a solution for funding the increasing number of crises, in line with their international commitments;

4.  Encourages the EU to reprogramme its development assistance in order to meet the most urgent needs of the South Sudanese people, and to support a transition towards peace and stability; welcomes, therefore, the suspension of development assistance through budget support for South Sudan, with the exception of actions which provide direct support to the population or direct support for democratic transition and humanitarian aid, and calls for the redirection of aid through NGOs and international organisations;

5.  Reiterates that long-term prospects for peaceful coexistence and development call for comprehensive institutional reforms to provide the country with a governing process that guarantees the rule of law; stresses that the post-conflict transition is likely to take years and to require a sustained and long-term commitment from the international community;

6.  Denounces the deterioration in relations between the humanitarian community and all parties to the conflict, including the illegal taxation of aid and the harassment and even killing of aid workers with impunity; notes that a number of foreign aid agencies have already withdrawn from South Sudan and that those which remain are struggling to meet the needs of displaced civilians;

7.  Insists that humanitarian aid and food assistance must be provided to the most vulnerable purely on a needs basis, and reminds all parties to the conflict in South Sudan of their obligation to recognise and respect the neutrality, independence and impartiality of humanitarian workers, to facilitate life-saving assistance to people in need, regardless of their political affiliations and ethnicity, and to stop immediately all harassment of aid workers, commandeering of humanitarian assets and diversion of aid; requests, also, that the ‘NGO bill’ be withdrawn or rejected;

8.  Insists that humanitarian aid, especially in the form of basic services and food assistance, should not be diverted to armed groups;

9.  Is deeply concerned by the food security situation in South Sudan, which has been caused by the conflict and worsened by recurrent natural disasters, and which is expected to deteriorate dramatically if fighting is renewed;

10.  Insists that a peace deal would allow people to return to deserted farms, reopen markets and rebuild their homes;

11.  Strongly condemns the extrajudicial and mass killings, deliberate targeting of civilians, human rights abuses (including those affecting refugees and displaced persons, women, people belonging to vulnerable groups, and journalists), arbitrary arrests and detentions, enforced disappearances, ill-treatment and torture carried out by all parties; takes the view that President Kiir and Riek Machar should do all they can to stop soldiers under their control from committing such abuses against the people;

12.  Urges the Commission, the Member States and the South Sudanese authorities to work with communities and women’s rights organisations to provide and promote access to quality education, sexual and reproductive rights and healthcare services for girls and women, including access to contraception and HIV/AIDS testing and treatment;

13.  Deplores the fact that the conflict has disrupted many basic social services, with hundreds of thousands of children out of school; is alarmed by the fact that children continue to bear the brunt of the violence, suffering from psychological distress and lacking access to services, including education; urges the parties to end the recruitment and use of children in armed forces and other grave violations against children;

14.  Is deeply worried about the ethnic dimension of the conflict; stresses that seeking power by means of violence or division along ethnic lines is contrary to the democratic rule of law;

15.  Calls for credible, transparent and comprehensive investigations that meet international standards – notably by the African Union commission of inquiry – in relation to all allegations of serious crimes by any party to the conflict; encourages the establishment of transitional justice mechanisms, with all the necessary international support, to promote both reconciliation and accountability; encourages the Government of South Sudan to accede to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court as soon as possible;

16.  Welcomes the strengthening of the human rights investigation capacity of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) with the support of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights;

17.  Supports, in this connection, the establishment of a special hybrid tribunal with international involvement to hold leaders accountable for the gross human rights violations committed by both sides of the conflict, as suggested by UN Secretary‑General Ban Ki-moon and recommended in a UNMISS human rights report;

18.  Recalls that humanitarian aid is vital, but cannot fix a political problem, and that the prime responsibility for protecting civilians lies with the government; calls, therefore, for the country’s wealth to be made directly available for the well-being of the South Sudanese people; urges all parties to honour the agreement and to engage constructively, through dialogue and cooperation, in the Addis Ababa peace talks, with a view to the full implementation of the ceasefire agreement and the rapid resumption of talks leading to the formation of a transitional government of national unity, which represents the only long-term solution, and to national reconciliation in the interests of the South Sudanese population as a whole;

19.  Deplores the fact that, despite IGAD’s continuous efforts to mediate peace talks with a view to establishing a transitional government of national unity, no significant progress has been made;

20.  Welcomes, nonetheless, the agreement reached on 7 November 2014 and calls for its immediate and full implementation; continues to support the mediation led by IGAD and its efforts to open the way for an inclusive political dialogue, and calls for the EU to continue to assist IGAD in both substantive and financial terms and to continue to contribute staff to the ceasefire monitoring and verification mechanism;

21.  Emphasises that building the appropriate institutions and legal framework to manage its oil wealth within its ethnic federalism is key to its peaceful development; calls on the EU, in particular, to support a long-term development strategy for South Sudan which enables the creation of a strong system of good governance, transparency and accountability (particularly as regards implementation of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative), and the development of infrastructure, education, health and social welfare programmes which use oil and development aid revenues;

22.  Urges the South Sudanese authorities to make sure that oil revenues benefit the people; calls on the negotiating parties to include in the peace deal the issue of transparency and public scrutiny in the oil sector, in such a way as to allow the revenue from this resource to be used for the sustainable development of the country and to improve the livelihoods of its population;

23.  Regrets the ineffectiveness of the targeted sanctions imposed by the EU and calls for targeted sanctions to be imposed by IGAD, the African Union and the global community; supports the continuation of the arms embargo against South Sudan and urges the adoption of a UN arms embargo against South Sudan and the region as a whole;

24.  Supports, and views as essential, the participation of civil society in peace negotiations;

25.  Warns of the spillover and destabilising effects of the conflict on an already unstable region, especially as a result of the increasing number of refugees in neighbouring countries; calls, therefore, on all neighbours of South Sudan and on regional powers to work closely together to improve the security situation in the country and the region, and to find a way towards a peaceful, lasting political solution to the current crisis; stresses that cooperation with Sudan, in particular, would represent an improvement in relations;

26.  Calls for the establishment of a contact group involving key players on South Sudan as a way to reinforce the work of IGAD and ensure international cohesion;

27.  Welcomes the work of the EU Special Representative for the Horn of Africa, Alexander Rondos; recommends that all his efforts be directed to contributing to a lasting solution;

28.  Encourages the Government of South Sudan to ratify the Cotonou Agreement between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP);

29.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Government of South Sudan, the Human Rights Commissioner of South Sudan, the National Legislative Assembly of South Sudan, the institutions of the African Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, the Co-Presidents of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly and the UN Secretary-General.

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0042.
(2) OJ L 203, 11.7.2014, p. 100.

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