World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


UN envoy: No one could have predicted scope of Sudan crisis

No one could have predicted scope of South Sudan crisis, outgoing UN envoy says

30 June 2014

As the top United Nations envoy in South Sudan prepares to complete her tenure, she says that no one could have predicted the horrible conflict that has gripped the world’s youngest nation for the past six months and urged the parties to put the country and its citizens above all else in order to restore peace and stability.

“Although I knew it would be rocky and difficult and challenging and we would be under significant pressure, I did not expect what happened in the last six months – the speed, the scale and the scope of what has unfolded before our eyes,” Hilde F. Johnson told a news conference in New York today.

Two and a half years after gaining independence from Sudan through a UN-backed referendum, South Sudan faced its toughest challenge as political infighting between President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar turned into a full-fledged conflict between the Dinka and Nuer communities in mid-December 2013.

The crisis has uprooted some 1.5 million people and placed more than 7 million at risk of hunger and disease, according to the UN. It also sent nearly 100,000 civilians fleeing to UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) bases around the country, leading the Mission to take the unprecedented decision to open its doors to those seeking protection.

In an interview with the UN News Centre, Ms. Johnson said that the decision to give shelter and protection to civilians fleeing for their lives was “the most important achievement” of her three-year tenure as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of UNMISS.

“The fact that we opened our gates actually has saved very many thousands of people’s lives… There will be incredible challenges going forward with this decision, but it was the right one. It remains the right one,” she stated.
This decision, she noted, was taken in line with Secretary-General’s “Rights Up Front” initiative, which was launched to ensure that the UN system leverages the full breadth of its mandates to protect people at risk.

“The main lesson learned from the past months probably to me is even though you knew something was going to happen, even though you thought violence could be an outcome, it can be much, much worse than you ever contemplated it could be,” said the envoy.

Ms. Johnson stressed to reporters the need for the peace talks to move forward as well as to ensure accountability for the serious crimes that have been committed and foster reconciliation among the communities.

According to the terms of the peace process under way, the parties have until 10 August to come to an agreement on an interim transitional government. Before this deadline, it is vital for the parties to abide by the cessation of hostilities that they have signed and establish the transitional Government.

“Time is very short, the window is narrow,” said Ms. Johnson. “Within the next few weeks, what is critical is international pressure for the parties to abide with these two very critical provisions that they have agreed on and for the parties to put the country and its people first over and above any individual interests.”

Equally vital, she added, is for a genuine reconciliation process. “We are in a situation where the social fabric of society has almost been torn apart. The conflict has created major rifts in the society and in South Sudan.”

It is crucial that any reconciliation and healing process ensures accountability for the atrocities and grave human rights violations that have been committed during the conflict. It should also be comprehensive and use the different traditions in South Sudan to bring the communities together.

“From my experience with South Sudan, if there’s one thing that you learn it’s that anything can happen and they have an incredible capability of putting things behind them and reconciling,” Ms. Johnson stated. “They have an incredible capability of shaking hands with their former enemies…

“I think the critical thing is that now the rifts are deeper than they have ever been. And that means that even if you shake hands at the top, there needs to be a very deep, thorough healing and reconciliation process from the bottom up.”

The Norwegian national, who was born in Tanzania and has spent much time in Africa, will complete her term at UNMISS on 8 July. After three years of “almost constant crisis management,” she stated, it was time “to hand over to somebody else.”

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

The White House: Charting A New Course On Cuba

We are separated by 90 miles of water, but brought together through the relationships between the two million Cubans and Americans of Cuban descent that live in the United States, and the 11 million Cubans who share similar hopes for a more positive future for Cuba. More>>

ALSO:


Journalist Most Recent Victim Of Israeli Military

Bashar, a journalist from Palestine TV, was shot in the left leg at Kufr Qaddum on Friday the 5th of December 2014. More>>

ALSO:

  • Palestinian Centre For Human Rights - Swiss government’s bid to convene a summit on Palestine
  • UN News - UN-backed reconstruction efforts continue in Gaza
  • UNICEF Mobilizes To Reach People Affected By Typhoon

    As Typhoon Hagupit wreaks havoc through the Philippines, UNICEF is acting quickly to support the Filipino government’s response to the emergency, providing lifesaving supplies and services for children and women in the areas hardest hit by cyclone-force ... More>>

    ALSO:

  • FAO - FAO praises government for early typhoon warnings
  • Security Council Demands End To LRA Attacks In Africa

    A Congolese refugee at an emergency school in Obo, Haut-Mbomou, Central African Republic, (CAR) after fleeing attacks by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Photo: OCHA/Lauren Paletta More>>

    UN Condemns Botswana’s Treatment Of Bushmen

    The UN Special Rapporteur on cultural rights has voiced concerns over Botswana's evictions of the Bushmen in the name of wildlife conservation. The United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on cultural rights has condemned Botswana’s treatment of Africa’s ... More>>

    UN Congratulates Frontline Ebola Response Workers

    10 December 2014 – The United Nations today congratulated the front line workers in the field battling Ebola on their well-deserved recognition as Time “Person of the Year,” while countries affected by the outbreak and their partners met to ... More>>

    ALSO:

    World United States: US Must Now Recover Moral High Ground In Torture Allegations

    Mr. Juan Mendez, Special Rapporteur on Torture, Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas More>>

    ALSO:

    Get More From Scoop

     
     
     
     
     
    World
    Search Scoop  
     
     
    Powered by Vodafone
    NZ independent news