the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Statement by NSC Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden on South Sudan

The United States remains deeply concerned by the fragile situation in South Sudan.  We continue to urge President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar to take immediate steps to end the current conflict, and we welcome their agreement to send representatives to Addis Ababa for talks mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development in the coming days.  We continue to call for an immediate cessation of hostilities to stabilize the situation and permit full humanitarian access to civilian populations, which remain in dire need of assistance.  The United States will deny support and work to apply international pressure to any elements that use force to seize power.  At the same time, we will hold leaders responsible for the conduct of their forces and work to ensure accountability for atrocities and war crimes.

We also strongly support the vital work of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).  We are working closely with the UN and other partners to help further strengthen the mission and its efforts to protect civilians, and we call on all parties to the current conflict to allow UNMISS to carry out its mandate without obstruction.

Finally, the United States is deeply concerned by the continuing reports of serious human rights abuses being committed in various regions of South Sudan, allegedly by government forces and militias that have taken up arms against the government.  Human rights abuses against the civilian population are unacceptable under any circumstances, and every new human rights abuse makes South Sudan’s path toward reconciliation more difficult.  It is vital that all South Sudanese reject these acts of violence -- and that all South Sudanese leaders call upon their forces to protect civilians -- and that there be accountability for those who fail to heed these calls.