Joint statement by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica and Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides on South Sudan's shattered hopes after four years of independence
"Four years ago, leaders from around the world gathered in Juba to celebrate the birth of an independent South Sudan.
The peoples' hopes then were for a new, bright future. These hopes have been shattered; twenty months of bloody civil conflict since December 2013 has brought terrible suffering and an ever increasing level of brutality targeted at civilians and children.
The South Sudanese people expect the country's leaders to urgently deliver. The perpetrators of such human rights abuses must not be allowed to act with impunity.
It is essential they are held to account, and the African Union (AU) Commission of Inquiry report into the original causes of the current conflict should be published.
Genuine peace negotiations are the only way forward and need to be revitalised swiftly. The EU pledges its full support for the peace efforts being made and recognises the steps to date. But it is too little and too slow. Government and opposition leaders remain unwilling to engage seriously or to stop using violence as a means to achieve their objectives. People are still suffering. Humanitarian needs are escalating while widespread failure to respect International Humanitarian Law has made it more and more difficult to access populations in need and to protect civilians. A greater willingness from South Sudan's leaders to compromise and engage in a political process is essential to achieve lasting peace and prove their legitimacy. The international community's collective and determined call is on them to act now for peace. The people of South Sudan cannot wait any longer.
The European Union will continue to stand by the South Sudanese people and those who are acting for peace."