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UN peacekeeping chief pledges support for displaced civilians in South Sudan

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August 3, 2017 (JUBA) – The head of the United Nations peace keeping mission Jean-Pierre Lacroix completed a three-day visit to war-torn South Sudan during which expressed the world body’s resolve to support the return to a peaceful and stable nation.

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The head of the UN peacekeeping mission, Jean-Pierre Lacroix speaks to reporters in Juba, August 1, 2017 (UN photo)

“We are determined to continue doing our best to help the population,” said Lacroix after visiting the oil-rich town of Malakal.

Lacroix visited the UN Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in Malakal, where 30,000 people struggle to survive. Since its formation, the internally displaced persons (IDPs) site has offered refuge to countless South Sudanese escaping conflict around their homes.

South Sudan has been in turmoil since December 2013, with tens of thousands killed and millions displace. A brokered peace deal signed in August 2015 has not completely held on, causing hundreds of thousands to flee due to the various humanitarian challenges.

The head of the UN peacekeeping mission was accompanied by David Shearer, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General who also doubles as Head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

During the visit to Malakal, the UN peacekeeping chief spoke with local authorities, as well as the UNMISS team and representatives of UN agencies, both on the humanitarian and development sides.

“We had a good meeting with local authorities in Malakal and we agreed that we should continue to work together and increase our cooperation in order to help the return of stability and also generate better opportunities for the population there,” stressed Lacroix.

During the meeting, Peter Col Wal, speaker of the Upper Nile state assembly, urged UNMISS to support peace activities in his state.

Meanwhile, Lacroix reiterated, at his final press conference, the importance of the initiative led by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) aimed to revitalize the peace agreement.

“Clearly it is a very important and positive thing that the countries in the region are being more engaged in helping South Sudan return to peace,” he said. “The UN has welcomed and supported this new engagement by the IGAD and looks forward to that process moving forward,” he told reporters in the South Sudan capital, Juba.

The senior UN official also promised that the UN would continue to closely follow the national dialogue process to ensure that it is conducted in an inclusive and transparent manner, saying that it “can be a helpful instrument in bringing together stakeholders and helping them resolve their differences especially at the local level.”

The peacekeeping chief also called on all warring parties to stop the fighting and to make all efforts towards a cessation of hostilities.

Lacroix expressed concern about the dire humanitarian situation and reiterated that the UN is working impartially to help everyone in South Sudan, irrespective of ethnic and religious affiliation.

“The UN is acting impartially in helping everyone in South Sudan, irrespective of their ethnic or religious or any other affiliations. I really appreciate that this impartiality was recognized by the leadership during my meetings with them. So we are determined to continue doing our best to help the population,” he said.

The official also called for cooperation with South Sudan government to expedite deployment of the 4,000-strong regional protection forces in the war-torn nation.

(ST)

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