Deputy head of UN Mission stresses enforcement and need for accountability for peace to prosper
Without real enforcement of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, and consequences for those who violate it, efforts to support peace and ensure humanitarian access in South Sudan will have only limited impact. That is the assessment of the deputy head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, Moustapha Soumaré.
Mr. Soumaré presented these and other observations at the African Union Peace and Security Council Meeting in Addis Ababa, Ababa where the regional body considered the situation in South Sudan.
The meeting took place alongside peace talks at the High-Level Revitalization Forum aimed at putting the 2015 peace agreement back on track. The parties signed a new Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities in December and have returned to the table for further discussions.
Listing the efforts of the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, Mr. Soumaré highlighted that the UN peacekeeping Mission in South Sudan is working to “actively remind” all sides of their commitment to cease hostilities and to inform the South Sudanese population of the commitments made by their leaders. The UN Mission will soon be distributing materials around the country explaining the cessation of hostilities to area commanders and local communities, helping the agreement take root.
Mr. Soumaré outlined all the ways in which the Mission is supporting the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism through logistics and force protection to more than twelve Monitoring and Verification Teams across the country.
On the peace talks, the Deputy Head attributed “what progress has been made” to “the international community speaking with one voice”. While acknowledging that there is pressure on the region and international community to support the peace process as much as possible, Mr. Soumaré stressed that “the real work must be done at home”.
The Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General discussed the challenging environment where nearly one third of the population has been displaced, internally or in refugee camps in six different countries. Approximately 7 million people, more than half the population, is expected to need humanitarian assistance in 2018, to the tune of 1.72 billion dollars. That figure, Mr. Soumaré concluded, is “unsustainable”.
According to Moustapha Soumaré, one way of mitigating the dire humanitarian situation Is increased protective and proactive UN presence in critical areas such as Yei and the West Bank of the Nile in the Upper Nile region.
“Building resilience is the way forward – humanitarian funding cannot grow exponentially forever,” the deputy head affirmed, noting that there are reports of both refugees and internally replaced persons returning to their homes.