Peacekeeping chief calls for political solution to crisis

Herve Ladsous, the Chief of United Nations Peacekeeping operations (DPKO), met with the President of South Sudan Salva Kiir Mayardit and a delegation of the Government. UNMISS, July 2013. Photo: UNMISS.

February 5, 2014[JUBA]– There could be no other solution to the crisis in South Sudan than a political one, UN peacekeeping operations chief Herve Ladsous said in Juba today.

“UNMISS is concentrating on three areas: protection of civilians, human rights and help to humanitarian actors to deliver, but clearly the solution to this massive crisis has to be a political one,” he said.

During his two-day visit to the country, Mr. Ladsous met with President Salva Kiir and discussed different challenges brought on by the crisis.

“Priority must go to the agreement signed on 23 January for the cessation of hostilities,” said Mr. Ladsous after the meeting. “In that sense, I conveyed the total support of the United Nations for the IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) mediation process.”

The peacekeeping chief also briefed the president on the situation the mission was dealing with on various UN bases sheltering civilians.

During a visit to the protection of civilians area at the UNMISS base in Tomping, Mr. Ladsous  said seeing thousands of people alive was a clear indicator UNMISS had made the right decision in opening its gates to civilians, although living conditions were difficult.

Community leaders expressed their appreciation, but also discussed the people’s fears and challenges with him.

“We are under pressure to return to our homes, but people are afraid,” said one representative. “If the UN cannot take us to another country, let us at least get transport back to our localities (of origin).”

Mr. Ladsous said the mission and humanitarian partners had taken up the most urgent aspects of people’s needs, but with coming rains, it was important to find ways to decongest the bases.

“It is a terrible strain for the UN and humanitarian partners to provide water and food but a lot of work is ongoing to improve facilities, find alternatives, but above all to bring about conditions that will help you return to your homes,” he said.

The UN chief also met with national and international UN staff, who he commended for their resilience throughout the crisis, and for sharing UNMISS facilities with South Sudanese seeking shelter in Juba and other places. He noted that this action had saved lives, but “deaths that don’t occur don’t make news”.

“Had this not been done, then it would have been many thousands or ten thousands of civilians who would have been killed,” he said. “Difficult as it may have been, as it is, as it could be in future, I think it shows a great example of the sort of thing we have to do.”

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