The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) on Wednesday pledged to foster peace and security in the world’s youngest nation where fighting has left millions in need of lifesaving humanitarian aid.
David Shearer, the newly arrived head of the UNMISS, stressed that the mission is “committed to helping the South Sudanese create the conditions of peace and security,” that internally displaced people need in order to feel confident about returning home.
“The internally displaced people in Wau urgently need to return to their land ahead of the planting season in April and May,” Shearer said during his first field trip in the town of Wau, where some 41,000 people are sheltering after fleeing their homes due to insecurity.
“If they do not there will be no harvest and they will be further dependent on aid,” he said, noting that the mission can support the country’s peace process, but that “ultimately peace and stability is something that the South Sudanese need to create.”
Shearer on Tuesday visited Rumbek town in Western Lakes State, where insecurity has been heightened by longstanding patterns of cattle raiding.
In both Rumbek and Wau, Shearer held meetings with the respective state governors and members of the legislature. He also listened to the concerns of internally displaced people.
The supply of humanitarian aid as well as business and trade all depends on having a good road infrastructure, but the key is to first bring peace to the country,” Shearer said.
In Rumbek, he also met UN peacekeepers who have rehabilitated over 250 kilometers of roads, noting how important transport infrastructure is for the development of South Sudan.
The world’s youngest nation has faced ongoing challenges since a political face-off between President Salva Kiir and his then former Vice-President Riek Machar erupted into full blown conflict between forces loyal to each in December 2013.
The crisis has produced one of the world’s worst displacement situations with immense suffering for civilians.
Despite the August 2015 peace agreement that formally ended the war, conflict and instability have also spread to previously unaffected areas of the country, sparking a humanitarian crisis. Enditem