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UN official urges S. Sudan parties to expedite unity gov’t formation

December 22, 2019 (NAIROBI) - The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi has urged political parties in South Sudan to expedite the formation of a unity government to achieve permanent peace.

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UNHCR head UNHCR Filippo Grandi visits a UN protection site in Juba on Saturday, 17 June, 2017 (UNMISS Photo)

He was speaking days after the United States vowed to implement visa restrictions against individuals undermining South Sudan’s peace process.

Grandi said despite last year’s signing of a peace agreement, the situation in South Sudan remains critical, with millions of its citizens displaced needing safety and humanitarian assistance.

“South Sudanese people long for lasting peace, only a political solution can end the crisis and bring relief to those who have been displaced over and over again,” he remarked.

An estimated nearly 400,000 people have died since war broke out in South Sudan in December 2013, with more than 2 million displaced.

According to Grandi, the current climate change the world is facing has also worsened the refugee crisis.

He urged all the parties in South Sudan to continue to include refugees and internally displaced persons in their discussions on the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement signed in 2018.

“The momentum towards the implementation of the peace agreement must be sustained in order to ensure the safety of civilians and guarantee solutions for those affected. It is their only ray of hope,” stressed Grandi.

Last month, President Salva Kiir and the country’s main opposition leader Riek Machar agreed to delay key benchmarks in the revitalized peace agreement by 100 days.

The delay in forming a transitional national unity government on November 12, 2019 came after Machar’s group raised concerns that the country’s security arrangements are still incomplete.

South Sudan descended into civil war in mid-December 2013 when President Kiir accused his former deputy Machar of plotting a coup, allegations the latter denied.

In September last year, the country’s rival factions signed a revitalized peace deal to end the civil war that killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions.