Senior officials from the United Nations and African Union said Tuesday there is a decrease in levels of violence in South Sudan compared to last year following the signing of the peace deal in late August by the warring parties.
Jean Pierre Lacroix, UN Undersecretary General for Peacekeeping operations said they are encouraged that the warring parties have made some progress especially on the cessation of hostilities amid recent sporadic clashes in the South West Yei River State and Unity state.
“We were encouraged to hear that there are measures envisaged to take it (peace agreement) further. Implementation of the peace agreement is primary responsibility of South Sudanese and the partners of South Sudan are keen to see a few things materialize on the ground particularly cessation of hostilities which will be of course so important,” he told journalists in Juba at the conclusion of a three-day visit to the country.
He acknowledged that there is a decrease in the fighting that should encourage women and civil population on the implementation of the peace agreement which will guarantee their safe return home.
“We have a glimmer of hope in South Sudan with the revitalized agreement although there is a long way to go to achieve peace in South Sudan. Its encouraging message was we are ready to work and help as a team AU and UN,” he said.
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women said that South Sudan women want to be included in the security sector reforms which include greater participation and contribution by women in securing the country which would diminish the unflattering activities of the forces.
The various armed forces have been accused by the UN of rape and sexual violence against women and children including killings since outbreak of conflict in December 2013.
“They (women) want to make sure that they take full advantage of the 35 percent women participation in the implementation of the revitalized agreement,” said Mlambo-Ngcuka.
The team that included Specioza Wandera Kazibwe, the co-chair of the Network of AU Women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation visited protection of civilian sites in the Bentiu town of the northern Unity state.
Smail Chergui, the African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security said that everybody especially the civil population are increasingly hopeful and demanding implementation of the revitalized agreement President Salva Kiir signed with rebel leader Riek Machar and other opposition parties.
Previous agreements have collapsed including pacts on cessation of hostilities like during outbreak of renewed fighting in July 2016 weakened the 2015 peace agreement.
“I think there is a recognition that the level of fighting as compared with last year over a certain period of time has decreased and at the same time the reality we still see some hot spots of violence. We recognize that there can be challenges in achieving total cessation of hostilities.” said Chergui.
“We as UN and AU are ready to help South Sudan in security sector reforms we are encouraged by the measures being taken by government but very important is the fact that the two chiefs of defense forces have already met in Khartoum and started mapping out unified army,” he added.