May 25, 2023 (KHARTOUM) – Immediate action must be taken to address the ongoing situation in Sudan to prevent potentially severe consequences in South Sudan, according to Nicholas Haysom, the Head of the UNMISS warned on Thursday.
Haysom met with President Salva Kiir Mayardit on Thursday to discuss the conflict in Sudan and commended his efforts in facilitating a ceasefire between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Force.
During the meeting, Haysom expressed concern about the potential security, economic, and humanitarian repercussions for South Sudan if the conflict in Sudan continues. He noted an increase in regional food prices and an escalation in humanitarian needs due to the influx of returnees and refugees, which has already surpassed 70,000.
Haysom emphasized that, apart from a few incidents, the collective efforts of the United Nations Country Team, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), and the South Sudanese government have managed to prevent significant impediments to the safe passage of returning South Sudanese nationals.
The UN’s top official in South Sudan recommended President Salva Kiir for his active engagement in the Sudan crisis. South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 following a self-determination referendum conducted in compliance with the 2005 peace agreement that ended decades of conflict between the North and the South alike.
He confirmed reports that President Salva Kiir has devoted considerable attention to coordinating diplomatic efforts in Sudan over the past month, potentially affecting the implementation of the 2018 revitalized peace agreement. This raised concerns that the transitional government of national unity’s term might need to be extended again.
While acknowledging President Salva Kiir’s diplomatic efforts and mediation attempts, Haysom urged him to continue progressing with implementing the roadmap outlined in the peace agreement. He emphasized the importance of remaining focused on the peace process, citing the potential consequences of neglecting the situation in Sudan.
South Sudan has been involved in facilitating a ceasefire between the conflicting parties in Sudan to ensure access to essential supplies for civilians, provide medical care for the wounded, and deliver humanitarian assistance to those trapped in their homes since the conflict erupted in April 2023.
President Salva Kiir, alongside Kenyan President William Ruto and Djiboutian President Ismail Omer Guelleh, were tasked in April by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to travel to Khartoum. However, due to the airport’s closure, the leaders could not reach their destination.