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Access denial hampers prevention of inter-communal violence — Shearer

Author: Emmanuel J Akile | Published: Wednesday, December 16, 2020

David Shearer, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General. File photo.

The Chief of the UN Mission in South Sudan has told the Security Council that the refusal by the unity government for the Mission to access many areas has hampered its work to help prevent inter-communal violence this year.

“The South Sudan government’s refusal to enable the Mission to access many areas during the year has hampered this work considerably,” David Shearer told the UN Security Council on Tuesday.

“While those restrictions have eased over the past weeks, we will continue to monitor and report progress to you.”

David Shearer said the escalating inter-communal clashes in the country are causing immense harm to civilians and risk pulling organized armed groups into conflicts that could derail the peace agreement.

Between January and May this year, UNMISS recorded 415 violent incidents between communities, up from 129 during the same period in 2018.

Shearer said so far this year, more than 2,000 civilians have lost their lives during local-level conflicts, which is being weaponized by external actors acting in their own economic or political interests.

In this last quarter, he said violent incidents dropped by 64 percent compared to the previous quarter, but as the dry season approaches, UNMISS is preparing itself for a possible resurgence of volatility.

The UN special representative added that several underlying factors have created what he calls a “perfect storm” for those already facing hardship.

According to the Mission, there is acute food insecurity that has affected half of the population, driven by displacement from conflict and severe flooding.

Around a million people have been affected by the loss of their livestock and crops.

Mr. Shearer states that the Transitional Security Arrangements that are aimed at unifying the security forces are stalled and leaving combatants in training centers often without adequate food and shelter.

He says the dispute over the proposed governorship of Johnson Olony in Upper Nile, Malakal – the only governor yet to take up an office – is being used now to halt the appointment of country commissioners who are an essential part of local government.

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