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DSRSG Soumaré visits Bor and Pibor: Road, airstrip and released child soldiers need our attention

DSRSG Moustapha Soumaré praised the cooperation between UNMISS and local authorities during his visit to Bor and Pibor.

While praising the good levels of cooperation and understanding between UNMISS and local authorities in the Bor and Pior areas, the Mission’s Deputy Chief, Moustapha Soumaré, highlighted the need to improve the road between the towns, the Pibor airstrip and the situation of recently released child soldiers.

“In our interactions with the governors we did confirm our willingness, as UNMISS and the UN, to support the situation here. Representing UNMISS, I say that we are committed to rehabilitating the Bor-Pibor road and to do something in terms of the [Pibor] airstrip. For other efforts that can contribute to sustaining peace, we are going to act as advocates to the rest of the UN system and the international community so that they can also come in and support,” said Mr. Soumaré, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General.

The DSRSG expressed UNMISS commitment to provide support, where possible, on the different peace processes and committed to engaging with other development partners on the situation in the state.

Regarding the roads, Mr. Soumaré acknowledged that while the Mission may not cover everything, there is commitment to improve the Bor – Pibor road. It has been rehabilitated a few months ago by South Korean peacekeepers serving the United Nations Mission in South Sudan but has been damaged by heavy rains and will need a new round of maintenance.

Mr. Soumaré added that the Pibor airstrip, as pointed out by the Deputy Governor John Aballa, will need to be improved and extended. In its current state, the airstrip takes four days to dry sufficiently to be used by small jets. An extension of the landing area towards the western part of Pibor would allow bigger jets to land and take off, which would greatly facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Mr. Moustapha Soumaré, who visited the greater Jonglei region last week to gain improved first-hand understanding of the peace and security situation, held meetings with the Governor in Bor and the Deputy Governor of Boma, state ministers as well as Inter-Church Committee representatives.

Mr. Soumaré commended the role played by local authorities in preventing inter-communal fighting, which is often linked with child abductions and cattle raiding, and pledged the Mission’s continuous support for such initiatives. He commended Inter-Church Committee for the work they have been doing in promoting peace in the area. He also mentioned the important role that the Council of Churches played during the last High Level Revitalization Forum talks by creating a conducive environment for negotiations.

The recent release of more than 200 child soldiers in the Pibor area was also praised by Mr. Soumaré. He nevertheless concluded that they will need significant assistance to become properly reintegrated into civilian life, or else they may opt to return to their vulnerable existence in the bush.