UN chief wants to boost peace mission in South Sudan

Telegram från AFP / Omni
04 mars 2019, 22.04

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is proposing that the peacekeeping mission in South Sudan be strengthened to shore up a power-sharing deal he said presents the "best and only option" to end the conflict that has plagued the country.

Guterres said in a report to the Security Council, seen by AFP on Monday, that the makeup of a regional protection force deployed in Juba as part of the mission should be reviewed.

The council is expected to decide next week on renewing the mandate of the 16,000-strong UNMISS mission, six months after the latest in a string of peace deals was signed to end South Sudan's five-year war.

In the report, Guterres proposed that the peacekeeping mandate "be strengthened to allow the mission to support the implementation of the agreement and peace process in a nimble and flexible manner."

The UN chief did not specify whether additional troops or police would be needed, but said troop-contributing countries would be asked "to contribute required capabilities if necessary" for UNMISS to carry out the new tasks.

Guterres offered to present an assessment of the requirements for the new peacekeeping mandate and said the makeup of the Juba protection force should be in line with regional demands.

The IGAD group of countries has asked that Sudan, Uganda, Djibouti and Somalia be allowed to send troops to the regional force, which will play a crucial role in maintaining security in Juba.

A previous peace accord fell apart when heavy fighting broke out in Juba following the return of rebel leader Riek Machar, who fled the capital on foot chased by tanks and helicopter gunships.

"I believe that the agreement is currently the best and only option for a political solution to the conflict in South Sudan," Guterres said in the report sent to the council last week.

South Sudan, which broke away from Sudan in 2011, descended into war in December 2013 when President Salva Kiir accused Machar, his former deputy, of plotting a coup, driving millions from their homes.

Last week, three leading UN agencies warned that nearly 7 million people were facing severe hunger in the coming months, an increase of 13 percent since January last year.