UNMISS SRSG Johnson highlights mission achievements in first year

6 Jul 2012

UNMISS SRSG Johnson highlights mission achievements in first year

6 July 2012 - UNMISS had often mobilized and deployed armed peacekeepers to attack-prone areas in South Sudan over the past year, saving thousands of lives, the UN's top official in the country said on 6 July in Juba.

Speaking at a press conference on the mission's achievements over the past year, Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) Hilde F. Johnson said UNMISS had always provided early warning to the South Sudanese government on advancing armed groups in Jonglei State.

"We have operated close to 2,000 flights into Jonglei State in support of the reconciliation efforts, in preventive deployments, and in helping both church leaders, government officials, and community representatives support the peace process," she said.

Being the largest state in the country, Ms. Johnson feared that renewed restiveness and violence in Jonglei could spill over into other states and cause instability in the entire country.

"Peace in Jonglei is essential for stability in South Sudan," she said. "It is ...very positive that Jonglei State is more stable now than it has been in a long time."

The mission had engaged in other areas of inter-communal conflict, dispatching missions to 40 hotspots in South Sudan over the past year in cooperation with local and state partners in trying to preclude conflicts, the SRSG said.

UNMISS had also verified reported violations of international humanitarian law and confirmed bombings of civilian targets inside South Sudan by Khartoum, as part of implementing its protection of civilians mandate.

The mission had worked to uphold democracy and political pluralism through development of the Political Parties Act and had fought for inclusivity in the process, the SRSG said.

She added that the mission had supported a broad-based, inclusive constitutional review process for South Sudan. It had also supported reintegration of rebel militias, security-sector reform, capacity building in the justice system and human rights enhancement.

But challenges remained, Ms. Johnson said. The mission had yet to fully deploy and must ensure that UNMISS received all the forces and capacities it was entitled to.

"We are...awaiting the full complement of engineering capacity," Ms. Hilde said. "When we have full deployment of our engineering capacity, we will be better positioned to provide more support in the area of infrastructure and help the new country."

Ms. Johnson also stressed the need to resolve outstanding issues of the Sudan-South Sudan peace accord, which was important for the viability of the new country.

"The tensions and the crisis between Sudan and South Sudan have impeded state and nation- building efforts," the SRSG said, noting that pending issues were critical problems for both countries.

Ms. Johnson then told the gathering that the UN Security Council had extended UNMISS for another year (resolution 2057), until 15 July 2013, with a new mandate that put more emphasis on protection of civilians and security enhancement.

Read full transcript of press conference