The head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Sudan has welcomed an appeal by the country’s Vice-President Riek Machar to communities in the troubled Jonglei state to refrain from violence and to immediately engage in talks on reconciliation and peaceful coexistence.
“The mass killings must stop and the people in the area need to join together in putting an end to this merciless and lethal cycle of violence once and for all,” said Hilde Johnson, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
“Too many lives have been lost, not least women, children and the elderly, forced to pay a terrifying price for these terrible actions,” she said, speaking in Washington, where she has been attending the International Engagement Conference for South Sudan.
UNMISS has urged the Government of South Sudan to continue to discharge its primary responsibility to protect civilians and to encourage communities involved in the cycle on inter-community violence in Jonglei to respect their earlier commitments to stop the bloodletting and to resolve their differences through dialogue.
UNMISS sent patrols to the Jalleh area of Jonglei last week after violence broke out. The mission is coordinating with the Government on the deployment of additional forces to areas where tensions remain high.
The mission has in recent months deployed resources to boost efforts to prevent and mitigate conflict between the Lou Nuer and Murle communities in Jonglei. It also continues to promote reconciliation between communities, in particular the inclusive peace process led by the Sudan Council of Churches.
“This is also the time for all South Sudanese to put peace in their new and independent country above all other concerns and interests,” said Ms. Johnson.
Meanwhile, UNMISS today welcome South Sudan’s commitment to joining the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, saying the move was an important step towards improving governance. The Government made the commitment at the International Engagement Conference.
The Government also announced a presidential decree obligating public officials to declare their assets and prohibiting them from engaging in private business while in office.
The two initiatives build on the five anti-corruption commitments made by President Salva Kiir following the formation of the country’s first Government in September, according to UNMISS.
“At the Washington conference, the Government has underlined its strong commitment to fight corruption and rapidly build institutions. These are bold decisive steps that will put the Government on the right footing and attract investors,” said Ms. Johnson.
“The South Sudanese have struggled for years to win their freedom. The key now is to provide the dividends of peace to the population. This involves expanding the economy, helping children to attend school, building roads, and improving health care. Conferences like the one being held in Washington help to consolidate necessary international support,” she added.