Nicholas Haysom, the top UN envoy in South Sudan, has called on political leaders to agree on a roadmap for the Central African nation to exit the three-year transitional period.
With only eight months left, the window of opportunity for South Sudan to meet the critical benchmarks to complete its transitional period is closing, Xinhua news agency quoted Haysom as saying at the UN Security Council.
In the months ahead, what is needed is national leadership, resources and a visible commitment by South Sudan’s leaders to take the necessary steps for the country to exit the transitional period, he said.
He called on the parties to the peace agreement to agree on a roadmap toward this goal.
“This roadmap should serve to recommit the parties to the revitalised peace agreement and must be accompanied by clear benchmarks and timelines. It should especially address the completion of outstanding tasks, such as the graduation and deployment of the Necessary Unified Forces, the approval of pending key legislation for the constitution-making process and national elections, as well as critical reforms of the security, judicial and financial sectors.”
In regard to the elections, it is important to note that what is required is not only the technical arrangements and logistics, but also an appropriate political environment, Haysom noted.
“Unless the parties demonstrate a collective common purpose, there will be challenges in meeting these commitments. The roadmap also offers an entry point for the international community to align targeted support for priority transitional tasks.
“It is our view that the sheer magnitude of the tasks ahead requires the international community’s full and unrestricted attention,” he said.
The scale of sub-national conflict is alarming, according to the UN official.
In Eastern and Central Equatoria, Unity, Warrap, and Jonglei states, as well as the Abyei administrative area, violence has been perpetrated against civilians, fuelling a cycle of cattle raiding, abductions, revenge killings, and gender-based violence, including conflict-related sexual violence, said Haysom.
This year, more than 80 per cent of civilian casualties have been attributed to intercommunal violence and community-based militias.
South Sudan is confronting a serious humanitarian crisis.
As humanitarian needs grow to an estimated 8.9 million people in need, resources are diminishing. Currently, only 26 per cent of the $1.7 billion required for the humanitarian response plan has been received.
Haysom warned that climate-related displacement, food insecurity, and lack of livelihood opportunities for youth will exacerbate needs and contribute to localised conflict over resources.