An agreement signed on Sunday by the main rivals in South Sudan’s ongoing conflict has been hailed by the United Nations Secretary-General as “an important step” towards ending the crisis there. The country has been mired in nearly five years of deadly violence stemming from the political rivalry between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar. Dianne Penn spoke to David Shearer, head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), who is based in the capital, Juba.
There was jubilation in the streets of South Sudan’s capital overnight on Sunday, as residents celebrated a new agreement that the top UN official in the country has described as “a big step forward” towards ending nearly five years of brutal conflict.
The Security Council on Friday narrowly passed a measure aimed at stopping the flow of weapons to armed groups in South Sudan, with those Members in favour saying it would protect civilians, while abstainers voiced concerns that it would undermine the ongoing peace process in the world’s youngest country.
Since the start of the conflict in South Sudan, widespread and systematic sexual violence has been a pervasive tactic of war and terror, said a high-level United Nations envoy, after visiting the war-torn country and hearing “horrific” testimonies.
In a visit to South Sudan on Tuesday, the UN Deputy Secretary-General spoke mother-to-mother with displaced women, pledging that she and other senior women leaders from the international community will not give up on the hope for peace for their nation.
Although recent engagement between the main political rivals in South Sudan is a welcome development, ending the country’s long-standing conflict will only be achieved by addressing its root causes and ensuring women, youth and other sectors contribute to peace efforts.
The United Nations Secretary-General has welcomed an agreement signed on Wednesday by the President of South Sudan and his former Vice President, which it is hoped will lead to an “inclusive and implementable” peace deal to end years of civil conflict in the world’s youngest nation.