January 2nd 2020 (Nyamilepedia)– The National Salvation Front (NAS) led by Gen. Thomas Cirilo Swaka said in a statement extended to Nyamilepedia on Wednesday that they have released 23 civilians who has been under their “protection” after they were left behind by government forces in 2019.
NAS is not a signatory to the revitalized peace agreement and it is still fighting the government of president Salva Kiir which it has several times accused of lacking the political will needed by all the parties to achieve permanent peace in the country.
The rebel group also said the current peace agreement signed in 2018 by Kiir and several other opposition groups doesn’t address the root causes of the South Sudan conflict.
“The leadership of National Salvation Front (NAS) would like to inform its members, the people of South Sudan and the international community that the Movement has successfully handed twenty-three (23) persons, who were under its protection, to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on 31″ December 2019 in Central Equatoria State, so as to be reunited and celebrate the new year with their families,” a spokesman for NAS said in a statement extended to Nyamilepedia on Wednesday.
“The 23 persons came under the protection of NAS forces as they were left behind by the South Sudan people’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) fleeing NAS counter-offensives to SSPDF attacks on our forces in different locations in Central Equatoria,” the statement added.
The statement further said they had relocated the civilians to a safer ground to protect them for what they said were continued offensives launched by South Sudan government forces in violation to the cessation of hostilities agreement signed by the government and opposition groups in 2017.
“Due to the vastness of the area coupled with the insecurity situation caused by the on-going SSPDF military offensive, the NAS command in the area relocated the civilians to safe locations causing the delay to reunite them with their families. All of them are in good health the hand-over,” the statement said.
“NAS wishes them a happy New Year 2020 and happy family reunion. Further, NAS would like to thank the ICRC for its patience, cooperation, and effective coordination.
“time of The National Salvation Front would like to reiterate its commitment to abide by the International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law that protect human life and dignity, where non- combatants and innocent civilians are protected.
“It is worth mentioning that the released civilians include the family of the SSPDF commander, in Mile-45 base in Kulipapa, who had fled his base leaving his family behind during the engagement with NAS forces The following are the civilians released to the 1CRC and taken to Juba on 31″ December 2019. NAS.”