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Refugee representatives set to meet S. Sudan peace talk parties

September 4, 2018 (JUBA) – The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) is set to ensure South Sudanese refugee representatives hold face-to-face meetings with the parties involved in key peace negotiations in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.

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South Sudanese refugees in Gambela, Ethiopia (Photo: South Sudan Consul, Gambela)

This dialogue, UNHCR said, would help ensure that refugee voices continue to play a pivotal role in the revitalized peace effort to end the devastating civil war in the young nation.

Following the conclusion of “revitalized peace agreement negotiations” on August 30th, some 16 South Sudanese refugees across six countries will sit down with all parties involved in the talks.

The refugees, UNHCR said, flew in from the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Sudan, to share their views, aspirations and expectations and to urge participants to find peace for the millions of South Sudanese, like themselves, whose lives have been uprooted by the conflict.

“The talks mark a significant moment in the long quest for lasting peace for the people of South Sudan,” said Arnauld Akodjenou, the Special Adviser to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees on the South Sudan Situation.
“It is critical to have refugee voices heard, peacebuilding efforts cannot afford to ignore them,” he added.

The current peace accord specifically calls for its dissemination to South Sudanese people inside the country and to refugees living in exile, so that the people most affected by the war, can understand, support and own the peace process.

“The refugee representatives in Khartoum will serve to remind the world of the human toll that continues every day there is no peace in South Sudan,” said Akodjenou.

He added, “But they can also become strong peace advocates by spreading the word to refugee communities where they live, or upon return to South Sudan if they voluntarily plan to do so.”

According to the agency, since the start of the conflict in 2013, some 2.4 million people have fled South Sudan – the world’s youngest nation - as refugees and another 1.8 million are internally displaced inside the country.

(ST)