UN special representative to South Sudan, Ellen Loej, has urged leaders and people of the world’s youngest nation to make peace work this time for the sake of millions displaced by more than two years of conflict.
Loej also told reporters in Juba on Wednesday that the issue of displaced people needs to be a priority for the new Transitional Government.
The UN Mission chief said the nearly 180,000 persons seeking protection in UNMISS sites pales in comparison to over 1.6 million South Sudanese displaced internally around the country and over 600,000 displaced into neighbouring nations since the start of the crisis in 2013.
We need peace to take hold. We need the economy to recover to wholeheartedly embark on that road.
Loej said continuous peace throughout the country was crucial for plans to resettle the displaced.
“We need peace to take hold. We need the economy to recover to wholeheartedly embark on that road,” she said.
South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar was sworn in as first vice president last week after he returned to the capital, Juba for the first time since conflict erupted more than two years ago.
His return is a crucial part of the peace agreement – it was President Salva Kiir’s sacking of Machar as his deputy that ignited the two-year war in December 2013, which has killed thousands and displaced millions in the country.
Machar took up the post under the terms of a peace agreement reached in August that called for a transitional national government and other security arrangements to end the fighting.
“For the sake of the South Sudanese people, I have to trust the Transitional Government that they would implement the Peace Agreement and I have to urge them over and over again to stick to their promises in creating a peaceful and prosperous nation and I urge everybody, including all of you South Sudanese to work together with everybody in realizing that dream,” said Loej.
The conflict has hammered the economy of what was already one of Africa’s poorest nations. Oil exports – the government’s main source of revenues that are suffering from weak global prices – have tumbled and the currency has plummeted in value.
Swathes of the country are struggling to find enough to eat.