(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Monday urged the Security Council to consider establishing a special tribunal to prosecute the violators of crimes against humanity committed in South Sudan.
"There must be justice and accountability ... There are reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed. A special or hybrid tribunal with international involvement should be considered," Ban told Council following his trip to the country last week.
He called on the two leaders to recommit to inclusive nation-building that involves all political leaders and civil society. "That means addressing the root causes of the conflict. They must cease a senseless power struggle and restore the sense of national unity that prevailed at the time of independence," he said.
"Political dialogue is the only answer. Now the onus is on both South Sudanese leaders to accelerate the momentum for peace," he added.
In Juba, Ban sounded the alarm about the violence and the risk of catastrophic famine, and urged President Salva Kiir to step back from the destructive path they are on. He conveyed the same message by phone to former Vice President Riek Machar.
"My message to both leaders was clear: they must work together to heal the wounds they have opened," he stressed.
Since then, the rival leaders signed an agreement in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, last week.
If the conflict continues, he warned, half of South Sudan's 12 million people will either be displaced internally, refugees abroad, starving or dead by the year's end.
Ban said he visited in Juba the Tomping protection center, hosting some 20,000 people. "I was moved by their welcome and appalled at the conditions they are having to endure, which are worse than in any of the many refugee camps I have visited around the world, including those in Syria," he noted.
There are more than 80,000 people living in shelters provided by the UN Mission in South Sudan and UN agencies throughout the country.
"This is not a long-term solution. This is an entirely man-made calamity and it needs the engagement of all actors to change course," he urged.
He stressed that the fight must end immediately and people need to be able to go back to their land to plant and tend their crops in peace, warning that if this planting window is missed, there will be a real risk of famine.
"That is why we are calling for 30 days of tranquility backed by both sides. I am troubled by the accusations by both sides of breaches of the ceasefire already, and I urge maximum restraint by all parties," he urged.
Ban also called on both sides to allow humanitarian access- by air, by road and, in particular, by barge along the Nile. "Attacks on the UN and the humanitarian community are unacceptable. They must cease immediately, and all parties should respect international human rights and humanitarian law," he urged.
He appealed to the international community to support humanitarian action, recalling that the humanitarian community is USD 781 million short of the USD 1.27 billion that is needed by the middle of this year, and urged all countries to support the forthcoming donor conference on South Sudan to be co-hosted by the UN and Norway on May 20.
A political crisis erupted in the country on December 15 when President Kiir, supported by government forces loyal to his Dinka tribe, accused his rival Machar, supported by troops loyal to the Nuer tribe, of staging an attempted coup. Fighting between the two tribes subsequently picked up pace.
The crisis resulted in thousands of deaths and over a million of internally displaced persons and refugees.