Top UN envoy, Nicholas Haysom, begins state visits across South Sudan

UNMISS protection of civilians Western Bahr El Ghazal Northern Bahr EL Ghazal Warrap Lakes Nicholas Haysom Aweil Wau Kuajok  Rumbek displaced civilians peacekeepers South Sudan peacekeeping peace

Earlier this week, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of UNMISS, Nicholas Haysom, travelled to four of the 10 South Sudanese states, as a start to his sub-national engagements - Northern and Western Bahr El Ghazal, Warrap and Lakes. Photo by Gregorio Cunha/UNMISS.

14 May 2021

Top UN envoy, Nicholas Haysom, begins state visits across South Sudan

Priyanka Chowdhury

It’s been a busy month for Nicholas Haysom, the UN Secretary-General’s newly appointed Special Representative for South Sudan and Head of UNMISS.

Since arriving in the world’s youngest nation on 25 April, Mr Haysom has completed a mandatory 10-day quarantine in respect of national COVID-19 protocols, held preliminary meetings with high-ranking national government officials, including President Salva Kiir Mayardit, and extensively familiarized himself with the peacekeeping mission’s complex operations in the country’s capital, Juba.

Earlier this week, SRSG Haysom began his initial visits to sub-national locations. Four states were first on his agenda—Western and Northern Bahr El Ghazal, Warrap, and Lakes.

The SRSG’s objective: To better understand issues that the South Sudanese people face across the country.

 “Those of us who are based in Juba tend to look at things only from a Juba perspective. We need to come to the states to understand the conditions under which people live,” said Mr. Haysom. “Though I’ve had an almost 20-year working experience in the greater Sudan area, I felt it was vital for me to prioritize visiting all 10 states to fully grasp how we, as UNMISS, can best support the South Sudanese people in their quest for a durable peace. It’s a necessary practice to break the bubble of the capital,” he added.

Upon arrival at all four locations, SRSG Haysom met with state government officials and held discussions on greater cooperation between the peacekeeping mission and the South Sudanese government.

The SRSG was in a listening mode in these meetings, giving the floor to key sub-national actors to speak about their state’s individual challenges, their roadmaps for a brighter future and gauging their expectations from UNMISS.

“My job is to look for concrete ways in which the mission can protect civilians and support the South Sudanese authorities as they navigate their way towards establishing a true, inclusive, peaceful democracy for all citizens,” revealed SRSG Haysom.

 “These were early discussions, but we were able to interrogate some of the issues and look at the conditions in play as we collaboratively deal with ongoing concerns such as intercommunal conflict, the humanitarian crisis, meaningful political progress and so forth,” he stated.

SRSG Haysom also visited the mission’s Field Offices in Wau, Kuajok, Rumbek and Aweil, where he inspected Honour Guards and was briefed on ongoing operations and challenges by Heads of Offices.

Furthermore, he held Town Halls with all UN staff deployed in these field locations.

“Our colleagues in the Field Offices are essentially the spine, the backbone of this massive peacekeeping operation, connecting the national to the sub-national level,” he said. “I think it’s equally important for us to do whatever we can to ensure that the conditions under which our staff in deep field locations work are as optimal as possible.”

Summing up his visits, SRSG Haysom said he felt strongly that UNMISS support in preventing intercommunal conflict, boosting public infrastructure and building peace from the grassroots was a common request from state officials across the board.

“My initial impressions from all four states is that there’s a tremendous challenge in building state institutions,” averred the SRSG.

“This is something we as a mission must continue - our support to state and local authorities. Mitigating intercommunal violence and promoting peaceful coexistence among all communities from the ground up has also been an overarching theme during my conversations,” he continued.

“As UNMISS, we will continue to explore ways to enhance our impact and help authorities build sustainable peace. We’ve recognized, I think, that this is not something that can be done by the United Nations alone and we will build on partnerships with not only our South Sudanese interlocuters but also with other international organisations,” concluded the SRSG.

SRSG Haysom is scheduled to visit remaining states and UNMISS Field Offices in upcoming weeks.