UN envoy calls for "common strategy" on political process in South Sudan

Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-25 13:43:12|Editor: Zhou Xin
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UNITED NATIONS, May 24 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations (UN)'s envoy in South Sudan on Wednesday urged the UN Security Council to unite behind a common strategy to advance the political process and ensure peace in the crisis-torn country.

Addressing the council via video link, David Shearer, the secretary-general's special representative in South Sudan and head of the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS), said that the "unity of purpose will send the best signal to South Sudan's political leaders to focus first and foremost on the plight of their citizens."

He also called for a "coherent and unified regional position" to aid political developments in the country, noting that governments in the region have "significant influence" on political developments to end the three-year war but are not communicating the same message.

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir on Monday declared unilateral ceasefire across the country after he launched a national dialogue that seeks to unify and stabilize the East African nation.

But the main rebel group (SPLM-IO) has accused the government of launching fresh attacks on its positions in Eastern and Central Equatorial regions in the past two days in violation of the said ceasefire.

Meanwhile, cyclical rains in South Sudan are expected to make roads impassable for the next four months. While the flooding will likely curb hostilities, it also greatly complicates humanitarian efforts, making over 60 percent of the country impossible to access by road or airstrips, and brings cholera.

The UN envoy praised the short-term deployment of peacekeepers who were helicoptered in by UNMISS to give "confidence" for humanitarians to follow.

He also lauded the work of humanitarians throughout the country, noting that this is one of the toughest operational environments and condemned "the unacceptable levels of violence that continue to be directed toward aid workers," including detention, threats, arrests, assault and killings.

Shearer's briefing comes as the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers that falls on May 29 approaches. Some 3,400 peacekeepers have died on duty since the first UN peacekeeping mission was established in 1948 until April 2016.

South Sudan has been embroiled in more than three years of conflict that has have taken a devastating toll on the people.

A peace deal signed in August 2015 between the rival leaders under UN pressure led to the establishment of a transitional unity government in April 2016, but was shattered by renewed fighting in July in the same year.