Statement by Nicholas Haysom, Special Representative of the Secretary-General & Head of UNMISS at the 29th RJMEC Plenary Meeting [As Delivered]
Excellencies and Distinguished Guests,
I thank the RJMEC for the opportunity to brief you today.
Since our last meeting, developments in Sudan have been a concern to us all and have taken center stage. In this connection, let me begin by welcoming the efforts of President Salva Kiir as the leader of IGAD’s presidential team mediating the conflict in Sudan.
I also commend the Government of South Sudan for opening its borders to receive South Sudanese citizens, Sudanese and third-country nationals, with or without papers. The creation of temporary transit centers for the returnees before transporting them to their states of origin is also commendable. As of 23 May, over 71,000 people were registered to cross the border into South Sudan from Sudan. The United Nations Country Team is working hand-in-hand with the Government and pledges its continued support towards addressing the humanitarian crisis.
I congratulate the Government of South Sudan for successfully convening the Conference on Transitional Justice last week which brought key national and regional stakeholders to deliberate on the next steps in implementing the related bills.
I welcome the approval of the joint Taskforce on Implementation of the Constitution-Making and Electoral Processes by the Council of Ministers on 28 April. This Taskforce, which is a Government proposed coordination mechanism will coordinate the efforts of various Government ministries, the National Constitution Review Commission (NCRC), the National Elections Commission (NEC), UN, IGAD, AU, RJMEC, and Troika. It will hold regular exchanges on progress in the implementation of both processes.
We welcome the news that the National Elections Act 2012 Bill was approved by the Council of Ministers. We hope that the Bill could urgently be taken through the compulsory stages so that the necessary electoral preparation can start the soonest and I join the RJMEC Chairperson in all his observations and requests.
While the allocation of SSP 3 billion to facilitate the deployment of the Necessary Unified Forces (NUF) and to commence Phase 2 of training was a promising step, there has been little progress on an agreement on the filling of the middle echelon ranks of the NUF. Unfortunately, the deployment of the Phase I Forces has been delayed by the lack of harmonization of ranks. This progress on the unification of the command structure, and deployment plan are lagging. Meanwhile, Phase II, originally scheduled to start on 30 September 2022, has yet to commence. Therefore, we call on the Government of National Unity to take the necessary steps to proceed with security sector reform.
The impasse, that emerged as a result of the removal of the Defense and Interior Ministers and the subsequent unilateral swapping of the same portfolios remains unresolved. We encourage the Presidency to address the remaining sticking points.
The R-ARCSS implementation institutions continue to raise funding constraints. While the draft national budget is awaiting to be deliberated in the parliament, we hope the Government will allocate adequate funding in the 2023/2024 budget for the implementation of the remaining provisions.
The deadline for the Government and non-signatory South Sudanese opposition groups to meet this month under the auspices of Sant Egidio community has passed. I call on both parties to reach a consensus on the agenda so that they can make progress.
The Sudan conflict has placed an additional strain on the humanitarian response, as the humanitarian partners have to redirect their limited resources from the ongoing humanitarian response, including the 2023 flood-response preparedness, to new emergencies. As of 19 May, only 27.2 per cent of the 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan launched on 20 December 2022, had been funded. On 4 May 2023, UN and partners in South Sudan launched an additional appeal in light of the crisis in Sudan for US$ 96 million for an emergency response plan to assist the people arriving into South Sudan.
We would like to inform you that the renewed UNSC Resolution 2677 (2023) on South Sudan has requested the Secretary-General to provide a special report on the political developments relating to the Revitalized Agreement as well an independent assessment of UNMISS efforts towards the protection of civilians. It is imperative for the Government to demonstrate progress on the implementation of the Roadmap provisions before the special report on political developments is submitted in October 2023.
In conclusion, I wish to underscore that it’s time for the peace parties to renew commitments and redouble efforts towards making progress on the Roadmap timeline. The crisis in Sudan does not allow us to be so preoccupied with Sudan that we take our eyes off the ball in South Sudan. UNMISS stands ready to collaborate with the Government, RJMEC, AU, IGAD, Troika and the international community to take the peace process forward.