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JUBA - 1 Feb 2023

UNMISS, Troika concerned about possible renewed violence in Upper Nile state

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in a statement on Wednesday said it was concerned about reports of a military build-up of Agwelek forces in Upper Nile State.

"The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), wishes to raise serious concerns over the reported buildup of the Agwelek forces in Upper Nile state in the past few days. The Mission urges these forces, loyal to General Johnson Olony, to refrain from any actions or movements that might pose threats to civilians and affect humanitarian operations in Upper Nile and Northern Jonglei," the statement by UNMISS said.

The mission said UNMISS peacekeepers are increasing their presence in the area, and it is verifying reports of movements and mobilization. 

"The Mission continues to engage with government, state officials, and other leaders to prevent any further escalation of tensions, following fierce fighting that began last November," the statement reads in part.

"With the historic visit of His Holiness Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland to South Sudan expected to take place this week, UNMISS appeals to national and community leaders to exercise restraint and commit to peace and dialogue," UNMISS concluded.

On Tuesday, the Troika (the United Kingdom, Norway, and the United States) raised the same concerns. 

"We note with grave concern indications of preparation for renewed fighting in Upper Nile State. South Sudanese transitional leaders and political actors in Juba have a responsibility to act to prevent this and to find peaceful and sustainable solutions," a statement from the Troika partly reads. 

Troika further said the government is responsible for the continued safe access and delivery of humanitarian assistance.

"We also call on South Sudan’s leaders to hold accountable those responsible for previous subnational violence, including the most recent clashes in Upper Nile, Jonglei, and the Greater Pibor Administrative Area. This includes those who have engaged in human rights violations, abductions, and human trafficking," the statement further read.

The three countries, however, reiterated that they 'will always stand with those who call and work for peace in South Sudan'.