The U.N. Security Council decided Wednesday to impose sanctions on six generals for fueling an 18-month conflict in South Sudan that has killed thousands, forced over two million people to flee their homes and created a humanitarian emergency.
U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said the council’s decision demonstrates that “those who commit atrocities and undermine peace will face consequences.”
Fighting broke out in the world’s newest nation in December 2014 after President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, accused former vice president Riek Machar, an ethnic Nuer, of trying to oust him in a coup. That sparked months of ethnic attacks, and the violence has continued despite several cease-fires.
The council imposed sanctions on three generals from the government: Maj. Gen. Marial Chanuong Yol Mangok, commander of Kiir’s presidential guard; Lt. Gen. Gabriel Jok Riak, whose forces are fighting in Unity State; and Maj. Gen. Santino Deng Wol, who led an offensive through Unity State in May in which children, women and old men were killed.
The council also imposed sanctions on three commanders loyal to Machar: Maj. Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual, chief of the general staff; Maj. Gen. James Koang Chuol, who led attacks in Upper Nike State; and Maj. Gen. Peter Gadet, the rebels’ deputy chief of staff for operations.
The six generals will now be subject to a global travel ban and asset freeze.
Power said that four years after South Sudan became independent from Sudan the country’s political leadership has squandered the international goodwill that accompanied its birth “and pursued political and economic self-interest that has produced only violence, displacement and suffering for the South Sudanese people.”
She urged political and military leaders on both sides to put aside “their self-serving ambitions, end the fighting and engage in negotiations to establish a transitional government.”