SRSG urges South Sudan’s leaders to compromise for peace

7 Oct 2014

SRSG urges South Sudan’s leaders to compromise for peace

7 October 2014 - UNMISS’ top official stressed today at her first press conference in Juba the vital need for South Sudan’s political leaders “to make the necessary compromise for peace”.

“Progress on the peace talks … appear to be taking longer that we all hoped and prayed for and which we believe the people of South Sudan deserve,” said Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) Ellen Margrethe Loej.

“The sooner the guns are silent, the quicker can both the mission and aid agencies focus on… assisting the South Sudanese people in building and developing this new nation,” she added.

Reiterating her commitment to impartially implement the mission’s mandate, Ms. Loej also described the first month of her tenure as an “informative and learning experience” which had had a “sobering impact”.

“The challenges in South Sudan are great,” she said. “These challenges are both internal and external. For the mission to implement our mandate requires cooperation and support by all parties in South Sudan.”

Outlining the mission’s new mandate, Ms. Loej stressed that protection of civilians remained central to the country’s stability and was a core priority of the UNMISS mandate.

The SRSG noted that there were over one million people displaced in the country in addition to the thousands seeking shelter on the mission’s bases.

“UNMISS responsibility for protection of civilians … extends to all parts of this huge country where people need protection,” she said. “We are determined, within the limits of our resources, to establish a presence in areas of need.”

Although Ms. Loej said the surge in the mission’s troop levels was “exactly intended for that (protection)”, she emphasized the need for cooperation and understanding of security forces, including the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and the armed opposition, to facilitate the troop’s movement.

“Let us not forget that the main responsibility… remains with the government and its national security forces,” she said.

Asked about President Salva Kiir’s recent call for the mission to include capacity building in its mandate, Ms. Loej stressed that such a decision lay solely in the hands of the Security Council.

The SRSG said she was not looking backwards at past poor relations with the government, but rather forward to fruitful interactions and constructive dialogue.

“As head of UNMISS, I am determined, through our commitment and close cooperation with the people of South Sudan and its government, to do our best to contribute to a peaceful and hopefully prosperous future for the people of South Sudan,” she said.