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UN Security Council urges South Sudan leaders to seize fresh opportunity for peace

UN Security Council urges South Sudan leaders to seize fresh opportunity for peace

Members of the United Nations Security Council have urged South Sudanese leaders to seize the opportunity to revitalise the peace process offered by a new plan to bring “estranged” groups together, restore the ceasefire, and fully implement the 2015 peace deal.

The UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, El Ghassim Wane, briefed the Security Council on the “extremely volatile” security environment in South Sudan, saying the country was in need of an “effective and credible ceasefire.”

“A change in behaviour is long overdue,” he said. “The pursuit of political objectives through violence - for which the people of South Sudan unfortunately continue to bear a heavy toll -should not be allowed to continue.”

Mr Wane noted the importance of a new High-Level Revitalization Forum announced last month by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an eight-country trade bloc in Africa. This forum would urgently convene all of the parties to the 2015 Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS) to discuss concrete measures, restore a permanent ceasefire, and fully implement the peace deal. He urged national stakeholders in South Sudan to embrace it as a genuine opportunity to restore peace.

The United States Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Michele Sison, told the Security Council that the revitalization forum was the “last chance” for salvaging the peace agreement. It was a “travesty” that, despite the declaration of a ceasefire, new battlefields were opening up across South Sudan, she said. “It is high time for action.”

The Ethiopian Ambassador to the UN, Tekeda Alemu, said, while the previous declaration of a ceasefire was appreciated, fighting was continuing unabated with devastating consequences for the people of South Sudan.

“The cessation of all hostilities and violence in the country is indeed a matter of urgent priority to alleviate the suffering of the South Sudanese people who have endured so much for far too long,” he said.  “It is extremely difficult, as much as we appreciate the effort, to talk about genuine and inclusive political dialogue while there is ongoing fighting throughout the country. That is why all parties have to immediate renounce violence and urgently take genuine steps to cease all hostilities.

The French Ambassador, François Delattre, praised the efforts of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in taking a “robust” approach to the protection of civilians, calling on the Mission to continue in this direction.

Sweden’s Ambassador, Olof Skoog, also welcomed UNMISS’ “swift” and “proactive” response in relation to protecting the most vulnerable, including women and children. He said that a political solution was the only way to resolve the conflict and end the suffering of the people of South Sudan.

“The longer the conflict is allowed to continue, the harder the road for recovery, reconciliation and peace will be.”

Watch the ASG's Address in Full Here