The United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) and head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Nicolas Haysom has condemned ongoing violence against civilians in Unity State's Leer County where displacement, raping and killing of civilians has been reported.
JUBA – The United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) and head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Nicolas Haysom has condemned ongoing violence against civilians in Unity State’s Leer County where displacement, raping and killing of civilians has been reported.
“Only last week thousands of people in Leer, Unity State were forced to flee their homes following a surge of fighting along with disturbing reports of sexual violence, looting and destruction of civilian and humanitarian property,” Haysom told reports on Thursday in Juba.
“I strongly condemn these violent attacks on civilians but in particular attacks on humanitarians and looting of their life-saving supplies. For humanitarians, saving lives should not mean losing lives,” he added.
The senior UN official further revealed that UN peacekeepers are currently monitoring the situation in Leer, patrolling constantly, and providing emergency medical assistance, as they are in other conflict hotspots across the country.
“We will continue to advocate at the highest levels of government to assume a greater responsibility to intervene in the protection of civilians, which includes humanitarians,” assured the SRSG.
For Mr. Haysom, building sustained peace is a collective effort. In this regard, he commended all parties for reaching an agreement on the command-and-control structure of the Necessary Unified Forces, a key stipulation contained within the Revitalized Peace Agreement
“I applaud the parties for overcoming an impasse to reach an agreement on security arrangements regarding the unified command-and-control structure,” stated Mr. Haysom, adding that he hopes such progress in achieving peace targets will be an important step forward in protecting civilians and providing humanitarian assistance to those who need it the most.
“With the appointment of a unified command, we expect to see greater coherence in responding to local conflicts across the country.”
The SRSG also took note of the 12 April Presidential Decree integrating the South Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in Opposition (SPLA-iO) and the South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) into the blueprint of a unified army, the South Sudan Police Service, the National Security Service, the National Prisons Service and the National Civil Defense Service.
Moving on to the Security Council’s decision to renew the UN Peacekeeping mission’s mandate in South Sudan until March 2023, SRSG Haysom highlighted a significant addition to UNMISS’ ongoing peacekeeping, peacemaking, and peacebuilding efforts – electoral support.
“Upon the invitation from the Government, the Mission stands ready to support the South Sudanese in elections and in building their political institutions. The holding and timing of elections will remain a sovereign decision for the people and leaders of South Sudan,” he stated.
Relatedly, Mr. Haysom listed vital areas that must be addressed for all outstanding elements of the Peace Agreement to be implemented.
“Now that the parties have reached agreement on the unified command structure, the way is open for a surge on other critical tasks which includes transitional justice; undertaking financial, legal and judicial reforms; and the constitution making process which is fundamental to defining the social contract will underpin national unity,” he averred.
For its part, according to the SRSG, UNMISS will continue providing necessary technical support and work with local organisations to encourage public understanding on an inclusive constitution making process.
Furthermore, with merely 10 months of the transitional period remaining, SRSG Haysom reiterated the urgent need for all parties, including non-signatories, to come together and fully action the Revitalized Peace Agreement, so that the people of South Sudan can heal past wounds and look forward to a peaceful, prosperous future.
“A window of opportunity remains for South Sudan to complete its transition in accordance with the timeline set out in the Peace Agreement, though it is closing. Recent progress gives hope that the Government can accelerate implementation and make maximum use of the time left in the transitional period.”
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