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S. Sudanese women leaders meet Troika special envoys

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November 18, 2017 (KAMPALA) - South Sudan women leaders representing women’s peace networks and the Troika special envoys to South Sudan held talks on situations in the war-torn nation.

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South Sudanese women dance at a festival in Juba to celebrate the country’s anniversary of independence (Photo: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

The United Nations Women in South Sudan facilitated the meeting attended by Christopher Trott (UK), Erling Skjoensberg (Norway), Paul Sutphin (USA) and Alison Blackburne, Britain’s envoy to South Sudan.

During the meeting, the envoys reportedly presented their position on the proposed revitalization of the August 2015 peace agreement, as well as their general concerns on South Sudan’s peace process.

“It is important to recognize that women are not just victims of the conflict but that they are also agents, and therefore their voices and experiences are as important as any warring party, in resolving the conflict in South Sudan”, the country representative for the UN Women in South Sudan, said.

The Troika special envoys thanked the women for meeting with them and said they had toured the region, including a visit to Addis Ababa and to the President of the Republic of South Sudan to engage all parties in the revitalization of the peace process, and how this represents the last chance for peace in South Sudan.

Meanwhile, the women leaders requested the special envoys to support South Sudan’s peace revitalization process, which was initiated by Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

The also proposed, during the meeting, that at least 20 women representatives, drawn from peace networks in the country, must be permanent members of the revitalization process, and the parties to the conflict must also ensure that all their respective delegates include at least 25% women as indicated in the peace network.

They reportedly argued that the proposal was in line with the United Nation Security Council 1325 and provisions in the 2015 peace deal.

The women further said they wanted IGAD to ensure the neutrality and impartiality of its member states, and be more accountable to the people of South Sudan and also called upon the African Union to take a more active leadership role in South Sudan peace process.

“IGAD was also called on to establish a gender support unit to support the IGAD’s mediation role in the peace process,” a statement issued by the meeting organisers partly reads.

The women leaders reportedly also expressed frustrations that arms were still flowing into South Sudan, making the country even more insecure, and as part of ceasefire arrangements and agitated for tightening and regulation of arms into the war-torn country.

The special envoys promised to take the women’s messages forward and ensure that they are well represented in the next phase.

“We are aware of your frustrations, not blind to the need for stronger engendering of the peace process, and have received your message very clearly”, stressed Trott, the UK special envoy.

(ST)

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