August 1, 2021 (JUBA) – It is the primary responsibility of peacekeepers to protect civilians who are in imminent danger, Nicholas Haysom, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said.
He was speaking at a workshop organised by UNMISS and the Joint Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JVMM) to educate stakeholders on new operational guidelines enabling greater access for the mission in the capital, Juba last week.
“When we receive reports of conflict or an escalation in tensions from any part of the country, we are quick to react; we immediately send out patrols to such hotspots and ensure that our presence deters perpetrators from harming innocent people,” Haysom explained.
He said to reach these remote locations, UNMISS provides information to the Government of South Sudan about the proposed movement to enable access.
“Unfortunately, in the past, the agility of UNMISS peacekeepers has been curtailed by denials of access by state authorities,” said Haysom.
According to the top UN official, the peacekeeping mission recently agreed on a new way forward with relevant government authorities to ensure it can more easily reach communities in need.
Monthly meetings geared towards furthering the common goal of preventing conflict and paving the way towards an enduring peace for all communities also take place between UNMISS and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“We, as a peacekeeping mission, have a shared objective with the Government of South Sudan: To build a durable peace across this young nation,” said UNMISS chief.
“Our presence here today is part of an effort to work better together in service of that shared objective, even if we have encountered differences of approach in the past. Working together with respect for each other’s responsibilities will make us stronger,” he added.
Haysom, however, said UN peacekeepers have intensified patrols are going all over the country to protect civilians wherever they may be threatened.
“We hope, with the cooperation of the government, we will be able to keep up this necessary work,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, South Sudan’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Deng Dau expressed optimism, describing it as a significant move towards peace in the country.
“This workshop and the guidelines we have adopted is very central in building trust among the people we serve,” said Dau.
“We are opening a new chapter of greater coordination between various security institutions within our country and the United Nations Mission in South Sudan to ensure a future of stability and prosperity for all citizens,” he added.
With this new set of operational guidelines, the peacekeepers will be expected to support the government and people of South Sudan in a proactive, nimble and robust manner, especially considering widespread subnational violence.
UNMISS was established on July 8, 2011 by UN Security Council Resolution 1996 (2011). Currently, almost 20,000 peacekeepers from 73 countries serve with the UN mission in South Sudan to protect civilians and build durable peace in the conflict-affected country.