South Sudan: Five Years Into Conflict, South Sudanese Leaders Must Make Peace Prevail

Photo: aljazeera
South Sudan gained its independence five years ago with much fanfare.
press release

Since 2013, South Sudan has been plagued by armed conflicts marked by widespread sexual violence, forced displacements and food insecurity. The Norwegian Refugee Council calls for full implementation of the revitalized peace agreement.

“For every year the fighting continues, people become increasingly vulnerable. Leaders of conflicting parties must now ensure full implementation and earnest commitment to the revitalized peace process to bring a final end to this brutal conflict,” said Country Director for the Norwegian Refugee Council Rehana Zawar.

On 15 December 2013, conflict broke out in the world’s youngest nation. In September this year, South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and opposition leaders, including Riek Machar, signed an agreement and codified a peace process, reinvigorating the hopes for a secure and stable South Sudan.

A third of South Sudan’s population has been forced to flee their homes due to violence and the resulting food insecurity in a growing number of regions of the country. The number of people affected by the ongoing food crisis is expected to increase to more than 5 million by the beginning of 2019.

“As South Sudan marks the fifth year of violent conflict, people are eager for peace and anxious to rebuild their lives,” said Zawar.

NRC calls on South Sudanese leaders to hear the voices of the civilian population, to put the good of the country and its people first, and deliver on their renewed promises of peace. The country is blessed with resources and it can easily overcome severe food insecurity if peace and security is ensured.

The peace agreement calls for cautious optimism; recent history in South Sudan is fraught with failed peace deals and violated ceasefires. Conflict and new displacement have occurred in several parts of the country during the last months, including Western Bahr el-Ghazal, Unity, Central Equatorial and Jonglei. Fighting has occurred both between different armed factions, and as a result of cattle raiding and inter-communal conflicts.

“We need peace. Peace means free and safe movement, that we are able to get sufficient food and talk freely. Women are currently facing many challenges. When we go to fetch water and firewood, armed men can come and rape us. That is why we need peace,“ Nema from Yei in Central Equatoria told NRC.

"I want peace to come, so that I can go back home safely”, Najema (13) told NRC. The young girl from Juba has been living with her family in a UN Protection of Civilians site since early 2014. ”We hear about it on the radio and my parents are saying peace may come," she said hopefully.

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