UN calls on peace partners in South Sudan to allow access to vulnerable populations

September 29, 2015 (NEW YORK) – United Nations (UN) has called on president Salva Kiir’s government and armed opposition faction led by the first vice-president designate, Riek Machar, to allow its agencies operating in the country to reach all areas affected by the 21-month long conflict.

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President Salva Kiir (L) and rebel leader Riek Machar (R) attend the signing a ceasefire agreement during an IGAD summit on the South Sudan crisis in Addis Ababa on 1 February 2015 (Photo: Reuters/Tiksa Negeri)

We are also worried about lacking access to the whole country. We need very much to reach all areas. The humanitarian situation is extremely dire. And there are also serious human rights violations going on, which we have to be monitoring developments,” said UN’s deputy secretary general, Jan Eliasson, in a briefing in New York on Tuesday following a high level meeting of the General Assembly on South Sudan

South Sudanese leaders including the first vice-president designate, Machar, the incumbent vice president, James Wani Igga and Pagan Amum, representative of former detainees attended the high level meeting during which they issued statements in commitment to implement the peace agreement signed in August this year.

But the UN deputy secretary general said one of the most difficult situation in South Sudan is lack of trust among its leaders.

“The basic issue is, I would say, trust; there has to be trust between the signatories, between the Government and Dr. Riek Machar’s SPLM (Sudan People’s Liberation Movement) in Opposition and the former detainees who were represented by Pagan Amum at this meeting,” he said.

Eliasson stressed the importance of the need that the outside world is conceived as not imposing settlements, but rather helping settlements become realities on the ground.

He commended the three leaders who participated in the UN General Assembly meeting for showing sense of togetherness.

“I must say, and I said in my conclusions in the meeting, that I was encouraged to see in this room the three representatives of the Government, the opposition and the former detainees sitting beside each other in the room,” he added.

President Salva Kiir, who did not make to New York but delegated his deputy, also asked to be allotted time to make his remarks at the UN summit through a recorded video link.

The South Sudan leader urged the parties to make a break through at the military workshop in Addis Ababa on security arrangements and kick off with the implementation.

“The horror has been going on for far too long and we understand now that the people of South Sudan support this agreement fully. This is a strength in itself — that the people of South Sudan themselves want the parties to come to an agreement,” he said.

He also added that he was encouraged that the issues that divided the nation become political rather than on ethnicity.

“I am glad that during this meeting nobody mentioned the ethnic issues. The words Nuer and Dinka were not mentioned at that meeting, so it is hopefully a political issue — a political issue on what direction the country will take,” he added.

He commended the parties for making a compromise that make the peace agreement possible, adding that South Sudan is a potentially rich country and would emerge strong in the African continent if the right leadership and vision and programs were put in place.

President Kiir expressed his commitment to implement last month’s peace agreement.

“This agreement is intended to resolve the political challenges in South Sudan and to establish peace in the country,” said the South Sudanese leader, while accusing the armed opposition faction led by Machar of violating a ceasefire to honour the accord.

Both factions agreed on a permanent ceasefire a few days after the peace deal was finalised.

Machar, in his address, acknowledged that the peace implementation process faces lots of challenges, but vowed to closely work with president Kiir to implement the new accord.

“I particularly call on my brother President Salva Kiir to get the necessary political will to implement the agreement in letter and spirit”, said Machar, specifically advising the South Sudanese leader to withdraw the reservations he placed on the peace agreement.

“The unity of our people is dependent on the implementation of this agreement,” he said.

The UN summit, held at its New York headquarters, aimed to galvanise the international community’s support for implementation of South Sudan’s recent peace agreement.