On behalf of Mr. Nicholas Haysom, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General, it is my pleasure to brief the R-JMEC plenary meeting today.
A few days ago, on 24 October, we celebrated United Nations Day, which marks the occasion the UN Charter was signed in 1945 in the wake of the devastation caused by World War II. Here in South Sudan, the United Nations works with the transitional unity government and communities as an impartial partner in peace, recovery, and development. In that regard, it is important to acknowledge the recent positive developments in the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement.
It is encouraging that the reconstituted Transitional National Legislature will now function with full capacity following the resolution of the disagreement over the share of responsibilities amongst the Other Political Parties (OPP) and the appointment of the members to both houses. The TNLA has debated and passed the conduct of business regulations and deliberated on the President’s speech. To move forward, the various specialized committees should be established without delay, given their criticality in parliamentary proceedings. These steps should also be followed by the establishment of state legislative assemblies and national commissions.
Parliament’s legislative agenda is extensive. The reconstituted TNLA will need to expedite the review and enactment of priority bills on the reform of the security, financial, and judicial sectors, as well as the Constitution-making process bill and electoral legislation to take the implementation of the peace agreement forward. Certainly, the passage of the national budget is one of the priority issues that the Parliament is expected to address in the coming weeks.
Supporting the capacity building of the reconstituted TNLA is a priority for UNMISS. Along with international partners, we are helping the reconstituted TNLA to draft a strategic plan. We also convened a two-day workshop on capacity building for women parliamentarians from both houses to ensure that the gender policies are effectively implemented. Yesterday, UNMISS facilitated the Political Parties Forum where the parties affirmed their commitment to regular dialogue and support for peace implementation. In partnership with R-JMEC, UNMISS supported the Strategic Defence and Security Review Board’s workshop to advance the completion of the Security Policy Framework, as outlined in the peace agreement. At the beginning of October, we hosted a two-day civil society forum on elections to enhance understanding of the role of civil society during each phase of the electoral process. UNMISS stands ready to work with all stakeholders to ensure effective and inclusive popular participation through civic engagement at all levels of society.
The lack of progress in the transitional security arrangements must be addressed. We welcome the Presidency’s recent decision concerning the graduation of the Necessary Unified Forces that can give a renewed commitment for the implementation of Chapter 2. We want to reiterate that the implementation of the TSAs is crucial to realizing other aspects of the agreement, such as the electoral process. Time is of the essence, and we still have critical tasks incomplete and significantly delayed. Therefore, we call on the signatories to refocus on completing the pre-transitional tasks as a matter of priority.
We take note of the negotiation process that was initiated with the SPLA-IO Kit-Gwang faction in Khartoum. The SPLA-IO factions, and indeed, all peace parties, need to work together to overcome their differences peacefully, renounce violence, and adhere to cessation of hostilities agreements and all other provisions of the Revitalized Agreement.
We welcome the recent positive development for relocating the conflicting parties out of Tambura. In this regard, the role and efforts of the JDB select committee proved to be instrumental to contain the recent violence to restore the much-needed peace. The implementation of Chapter 2 of the Revitalized Agreement will help to prevent this type of violence and security incidents and address the root causes of tensions.
The humanitarian situation remains alarming. Fighting in Tambura county forced the displacement of almost 80,000 people with urgent needs of food and shelter. Armed conflict in Central Equatoria, mainly involving non-signatory parties to the Revitalized Peace Agreement and other armed factions, displaced more than 120,000 people between January and September.
We know that South Sudanese from all walks of life are experiencing severe economic hardships. Young people are particularly affected, and as a result, they are missing out on education, training, and jobs. However, that frustration must not be taken out on the very organizations trying to help them. Recent incidents of youth attacking humanitarian convoys and threatening workers in an attempt to secure jobs for themselves are utterly unacceptable and cause immense harm to their own communities who are already suffering. For example, in Pibor, more than 80 humanitarian workers had to be relocated recently due to threats against them, and aid services had to be paused, depriving 100,000 people in desperate need of assistance. In this regard, we urge all authorities and communities to ensure the safe and unhindered access of humanitarian partners and to refrain from violence against aid facilities and workers who are courageously supporting people in need.
Widespread flooding coupled with conflict and subsequent displacement as well as the socioeconomic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, have deepened humanitarian needs across the country. Of the $1.7 billion US dollars requested in the 2021 South Sudan Humanitarian Response Plan, 61% has been received as of 21 October. Additional funding is needed to respond to the increasing needs of conflict and flood-affected people across the country.
In conclusion, while we acknowledge the progress observed so far, we must also acknowledge that a lot more committed action is required for durable peace to take root in South Sudan. I am convinced that working together, we can accelerate implementation and maximize our impact in achieving important benchmarks. In the coming weeks, the priorities now must be:
First, making concrete, visible progress on harmonization of command of the armed forces and the formation of the NUF.
Second, the expeditious formation of the specialized committees and the passing of enabling priority legislation by the reconstituted TNLA.
Third, formation of state assemblies and councils and adherence to 35% gender provisions.