South Sudan’s vice-president today assured the General Assembly of further steps toward deploying 4,000 more United Nations peacekeepers after this summer’s resurgence of a civil war that has engulfed the world’s newest country for most of its five years of life.
“My Government position is that we have to engage more with the UN on the details pertaining to the implementation,” Taban Deng Gai told the Assembly’s annual general debate, referring to August’s Security Council resolution, accepted by his Government earlier this month, for an additional 4,000-strong regional protection force within the already 12,000-strong UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
“This is in order to avoid derailing national healing and reconciliation. External intervention often affects negatively internal reconciliation,” he said, stressing that the tasks of the force can be advanced through collaboration and cooperation with the country’s Transitional Government of National Unity.
“At the moment, I can report to you with confidence that the situation in our country is stable, peaceful and that my government is functioning and life is returning back to normal,” he added.
But he warned that the effect of the conflict, coupled with the low global oil prices has put the economy under unprecedented fiscal stress, creating hardship for the general public.
UNMISS was set up in 2011 after South Sudan broke away from Sudan. It played a major role in trying to protect civilians when war broke out in 2013 between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and those of then Vice-President Riek Machar.
In a fresh outbreak of violence this summer around Juba, the capital, after a truce broke down, UN compounds and UNMISS-managed civilian protection sites were attacked. A UN investigation revealed that Government security forces carried out killings and rapes, and looted and destroyed properties.
UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien reported after a visit in August that the humanitarian situation had deteriorated significantly, including in once relatively stable areas.
Since December 2013, over two million people have fled their homes. Some 1.6 million are displaced within South Sudan and more than 900,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries.
Vice-President Gai also reported that in an “important milestone” South Sudan and Sudan, which had seen violent clashes on their border, were now moving quickly to normalizing their relations.
“There shall be no more harbouring of negative forces from both countries, Sudan and South Sudan,” he said.