UNMISS Head Urges International Community to show “Unity of Purpose” in Supporting Peace in South Sudan
The international community must show “unity of purpose” by supporting a peace process capable of being fully implemented in South Sudan in the face of a “narrow” space for compromise, according to the Head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.
Speaking at the United Nations Security Council in New York, David Shearer said given only a few months remained in the transitional period stipulated by the 2015 peace agreement, external momentum to support peace was needed.
“It is critical now that the international community shows a unity of purpose to support an implementable peace process that leads to credible elections in due course, but only after a period of transition marked by genuine inclusivity and stability.”
David Shearer, who is also the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, said the best chance for resolving the conflict was political mediation through the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, a regional body that has set up a High Level Revitalization Forum to breathe life into the peace process.
He said UNMISS would also continue to work closely with all parties to the conflict to support their meaningful engagement in the political process.
As a result of the civil war which erupted in 2013, more than 7.6 million South Sudanese people are in need of aid and four million are displaced, half of whom fled to neighbouring countries to escape the ongoing violence.
David Shearer said UNMISS peacekeepers were continuing with a “nimble, robust and proactive” approach to protecting civilians at a time of ongoing insecurity with both parties to the conflict continuing to engage in military action despite the unilateral ceasefire.
A new approach is also being taken to enabling displaced people to return to their homes with UNMISS working intensively with humanitarians to create a more secure and supported environment in communities.
“We are working with humanitarian partners to align our efforts so that people have a real choice to return home. The quality of services inside the POCs and in the outside community needs more balance. Having a first-class medical facility inside the POC site and no medical support outside clearly deters people from voluntarily leaving the sites,” said David Shearer. “These efforts will also coincide with UNMISS efforts to increasingly project our peacekeeping forces from static duties out into communities where they are most needed.”
The deployment of the UN-mandated Regional Protection Force will enable peacekeepers to extend their reach into areas most in need. This includes establishing a permanent presence in Yei, and reinforcing troops in Torit and Yambio in the Equatorias to deter violence and human rights abuses and build confidence among local communities, he said.
In his speech, David Shearer also praised humanitarian agencies for their work in reaching those most in need in one of the world’s most dangerous environments for aid workers.
However, he expressed concern about the continued denial of access for humanitarians trying to reach communities in the Greater Upper Nile, Equatorias, and around Wau, in northwestern South Sudan. In one case, a convoy had to obtain 13 different permissions to travel along a particular route to reach people in desperate need of food, water, and healthcare.
David Shearer said the Transitional Government of National Unity could support the work of humanitarians by reducing bureaucratic impediments, including the taxes and fees it imposes on aid agencies.