The arrival in Juba of First Vice-President-designate Riek Machar should open a new chapter for South Sudan and allow “the real transition to begin,” the United Nations peacekeeping chief said Tuesday, stressing that the security situation in the country, however, remains precarious amid a worsening humanitarian and human rights situation.
Briefing the Security Council, UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous noted that, in a “positive development and vital that the political and security trends now under way in the country change rapidly if we wish to see a possibility for us to see the peace process succeed”.
“It is vital that parties should take this opportunity to show the genuine determination to move forward with the peace process,” he added.
In his briefing, Mr. Ladsous emphasised that intermittent fighting was witnessed in several areas of the country.
Noting that the Government of South Sudan has continued to impose restrictions on the movement of the UN Mission there (UNMISS) and humanitarian workers, in violation of the Status of Forces Agreement, Mr. Ladsous stressed the need for unimpeded movement by the Mission and humanitarian partners in order to address the worsening humanitarian and human rights situation.
“These restrictions have severely impacted the Mission’s ability to move and protect civilians as well as the UN’s ability to deliver badly needed humanitarian assistance,” Mr. Ladsous said.
“I would urge the Council to send a strong message to both the Government and the opposition on the utmost imperative to grant the Mission and humanitarian partners unimpeded freedom of movement to allow them to implement their respective mandates.”
Mr. Ladsous noted that of particular concern are the recent clashes between the SPLA and armed groups in Wau County, Western Bahar El Ghazal, leading to killings, and displacement of civilians.
He said that fighting between SPLA and opposition forces has also been reported in Upper Nile and Unity and in the Equatorias over the past few weeks.
He said that the preliminary investigation into the violence in the UNMISS civilian protection site in Malakal on 17 and 18 February indicated that at least 25 internally displaced people were killed and more than 140 injured.
The Under-Secretary-General stressed that in view of the gravity of the incident, the Secretariat has convened an independent Board of Inquiry to look into the response of the Mission to the crisis.
In addition, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has decided to establish a special investigation to look into all factors that contributed to the violence, and determine the responsibilities, he said.
The special investigation will be led by Abiodun Bashua and is about to start its work.
The Security Council will be briefed on the outcome of both investigations by early June, Mr. Ladsous said.
Issues facing the transitional government
Mr. Ladsous also said that the transitional government will have to “start work from day one” to address the governance, financial misappropriation and improving rule of law.
“The current slump in oil prices has pushed South Sudan to the brink of economic collapse. Even if the parties fully implement the peace agreement, the economic challenges will not be overcome without significant reforms and international assistance,” he stressed.
In addition, he said that other conflict drivers, such as the creation of the new 28 states, should be addressed in accordance with the Summit Decision of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and the position of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC).
“A unilateral implementation of this order would be detrimental to the peace efforts; it also requires tremendous resources that South Sudan cannot afford,” Mr. Ladsous said.