Representatives from the African Union and the United Nations who have paid a visit to South Sudan this week expressed unusual hope for the implementation of the September 12, 2018 peace agreement signed between the warring factions in the youngest African nation, being torn apart by a devastating civil war since 2013.
This was disclosed during a press briefing by AU Commissioner for peace and security Smail Chergui (Amb.), UN Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Executive director for UN Women, Phunzile Mlambo Ngcaku, Co-Chair of the AU Network of Women Mediators (FEMWISE), Speciosa Wandira Kazibwe (PhD) and UN Women Representatives to Ethiopia, EU and ECA, Ms. Letty Chiwara at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa on October 10, 2018.
Pointing out that the partnership between the AU and UN is getting stronger from time to time especially on peace and security matters, Chergui asserted that the situation in South Sudan is rather hopeful from what the team has observed on the ground.
“The visit to Juba and Banchu gave us the opportunity to discuss with government, women and civil service organizations and everyone is in harmony with the recent peace agreement,” he said.
Although the signatories previously had reservation in any of the past agreements signed, this time round, no one has a single reservation on the pact and all seems to be committed for its implementation, he told journalists.
“The Only remaining task is the release of prisoners,” Chergui added and indicated that all international community members including the UN, AU, IGAD and others should help the peace process.
“We want the process to be inclusive to women who have been immensely affected by the security situation there,” he emphasized. “We came rather encouraged.”
UN Peacekeeping undersecretary Lacroix, corroborating Chergui’s points, said that the current situation in South Sudan is rather encouraging and that he is committed to support the peace process there.
“There are some key progresses made so far and they are very important to South Sudan and their partners; these include the end of hostilities, the release of prisoners and the representation of women at all levels,” Lacroix asserted.
Wandika on her part emphasized the need to take the role of women seriously in the South Sudanese peace process; and asserted that women seem committed to implement the peace process.
“We support the people not only in terms of having the Metrix to implement the peace agreement but also their full-flagged engagement,” she stated. “We are committed to help women organize themselves in the way it helps define their path to the future.”
Furthermore, Ngucuka asserting that the peace process badly needs the participation of women, she called for serious consideration of their engagement so as the violence committed against them is handled properly.
“Women have to be proactive and no one should tell us that we cannot find women of that quality in Afrcia,” she said.
But, with all this hope, the humanitarian situation in South Sudan has deteriorated in recent times with more than 100,000 of its population in camps and half of the general population living in dire situation.
“One of the reasons for our presence here is to improve the humanitarian situation; but if we are to change this, we have to improve the security situation,” Lacroix indicated.
Answering to why he hoped the peace agreement would work this time around, Chergui indicated: “South Sudanese parties are in agreement regarding the fact that there is no military solution to their problems; their economy has been highly affected and they know that they won’t continue as a nation if they go down the same path.”
All of the visitors to South Sudan joined forces to call up on the international community to help in the effective implementation of the peace agreement signed in Addis Ababa after failure of previously signed agreements. The agreement signed now is said to be the last one despite dozens of failed attempts previously.
The delegation visited South Sudan for two days from October 7 to 9, 2018.