Home | News    Friday 15 May 2015

UN envoy decries suffering of people in S. Sudan

May 2015, 2015 (JUBA) – The head of the United Nations mission in South Sudan has decried the “untold suffering” of people from the devastating effect of conflict that broke out in the country in 2013.

The new head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), Ellen Margrethe Loj (Photo: UN/Staton Winter)

Addressing the Security Council on Thursday, Ellen Margrethe Loj detailed how the conflict has displaced millions of people, yet showing no signs of an end, despite the efforts by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

“The untold suffering of the people of South Sudan must stop,” Loj said.

“Every day without a political agreement contributes to a further deterioration of the situation on the ground, leading to greater displacement and human misery, and risks regional peace and security,” she added.

According to the UN official, the most serious situation is currently in the oil-rich Unity state, citing reports of Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) advancing and fighting as they push into southern areas of the oil-rich region towards Koch, Leer and Adok.

The UN says over 2 million people have been displaced, 1.5 million internally, and 500,000 in neighbouring countries. Also over 2.5 million people face severe food insecurity, especially in the greater Upper Nile region, and this figure will most likely increase significantly.

Loj also hinted on the deteriorating economic situation in the country worsened by a drop in oil revenues and that heavy expenditure on defence has made government reliant on external financial support.

“The [economic] situation will continue to decline if conflict continues and external aid is not forthcoming,” warned the UN official.

Meanwhile, Loj detailed incidences of serious human rights violations in the country, urging the two South Sudanese warring parties assumed their responsibilities and abide by international law and take all measures to ensure safety of civilians and aid organisations.

“Not only are more IDPs arriving but incidents of ethnic, political and tribal clashes have grown during the last two months,” she said.

In her remarks before the Council, the UNMISS boss also hinted on challenges facing the mission in its work such as the huddles of dealing with crime, gang-related violence, and ethnically based disturbances occurring within the UN protection of civilian sites.

“As of 6 May, UNMISS provided protection to nearly 120,000 displaced persons in seven sites, including about 53,000 in Bentiu, 34,000 in Juba, and now nearly 29,000 in Malakal following the latest fighting in the area,” Loj told members of the Council.

She urged the warring factions to renew their commitment to facilitate the work of the UN in South Sudan, and expressed concern of the continued incidence of unlawful arrests, detentions and abductions, including targeting of UN and humanitarian personnel.

“There is no alternative to silencing the guns and concluding a comprehensive peace agreement in order to turn South Sudan towards the path of peace and stability,” she said.