July 26, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – Former vice-president Riek Machar, who leads a rebel faction of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement in Opposition has welcomed Ellen Margrethe Loj, the newly appointed head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and pledged to fully cooperate with her.
- The new head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), Ellen Margrethe Loj (Photo: UN/Staton Winter)
UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon on Thursday appointed Loj, a Danish envoy, as the new chief for the UN peacekeeping forces in the young war-ravaged country.
Loj will replace Hilde Johnson who is from Norway. Johnson served as top official in charge of the mission from July 2011 to July 2014.
The new envoy previously served as the UN representative to Liberia from 2008-2012. She also served as Denmark ambassador to UN, Israel and the Czech Republic, respectively.
The change of guards comes in the wake of the ongoing seven month old crisis in the three-year old country which has already killed tens of thousands and displaced over 1.3 million people since 15 December.
In its 7,182nd meeting held on 27 May in New York, UN Security Council (UNSC) passed resolution 2155 (2014) and extended its mandate until November 2014, increasing the number of peace keepers from 8,000 to 12,500.
The resolution partly stated that the Council responded to “great alarm and concern regarding the rapidly deteriorating political, security, and humanitarian crisis in South Sudan resulting from the internal Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) political dispute and subsequent violence caused by the country’s political and military leaders”.
The new mandate authorises “UNMISS to use all necessary means” for protection of civilians, monitoring and investigating human rights, creating the conditions for delivery of humanitarian assistance and supporting the implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement which the two warring parties signed on 23 January 2014.
However, there have been repeated violations to the ceasefire with both parties accused of breaching the 23 January truce.
REBELS READY TO COOPERATE
However, Machar said his group would continue to cooperate with the new envoy.
“We welcome her. We will fully cooperate with her in implementing the UNMISS mandate,” Machar told Sudan Tribune on Saturday from the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
He also commended the “great role” played by the outgoing envoy, saying her relentless efforts saved lives of people who have taken shelter in UNMISS compounds across the country.
Nearly 100,000 people are taking refuge in various UNMISS sites in the country in the aftermath of the 15 December crisis.