South Sudanese people long for peace as key deadline passes
South Sudan’s leaders must ensure a power-sharing government is in place within the new extended timeframe as millions of war-weary citizens cannot afford any more delays to the peace process, the Norwegian Refugee Council has warned. “Another important deadline has passed, and a lasting peace is no closer to becoming a reality. At the same time, this extension is an opportunity for all parties to continue negotiating and to crucially move forward with the peace agreement’s most contentious clauses. It is imperative that they engage in dialogue, make compromises, and deliver on the promises of peace,” said Miklos Gosztonyi, Policy Advisor with the NRC.
A six-month extension was granted to give the parties more time for the formation of a transitional government of national unity after they failed to resolve issues by this weekend´s May 12 deadline – the date initially agreed when the peace agreement was signed last September.
While the signing of the fragile peace deal eight months ago has seen a reduction in fighting among the signatories, violence continues in some areas. There has been inter-communal fighting, cattle raiding, and clashes involving groups that did not sign the peace agreement. Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate with millions of people facing a growing food crisis as a result of the conflict.
“The food security situation continues to deteriorate mainly due to families fleeing conflict, low crop production, and humanitarian access challenges. Around 80 per cent of people in South Sudan are living below the absolute poverty line. Insecurity also stands in the way of the safe and dignified return for refugees who sought shelter in neighbouring countries, and for internally displaced persons,” Gosztonyi said.
“Now that power-sharing arrangements have been agreed towards the formation of the unity government, the parties should engage with the clauses of the agreement and agree to address the root causes of the conflict. The people of South Sudan have been living on the edge for too long and cannot afford any more delays to the peace they were promised,” he added.
Note to editors:
Around 6.4 million people are currently at risk of hunger according to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC)report into the escalating food crisis in South Sudan. Out of those, an estimated 1.6 million people are already facing extreme hunger.
By July, a total of 6.8 million people, 60 per cent of the population, could face acute food insecurity.
It is estimated that 45,000 people in former Jonglei, Lakes and Unity are suffering catastrophic levels of hunger and could worsen to famine-like conditions if humanitarian aid isn´t received within the next couple of months.
Around 860,000 children are likely to be acutely malnourished, with conflict-driven displacement among the main reasons for mothers having reduced access to food, nutrition and health services.
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