International community's patience is "wearing thin" with warring parties in South Sudan: UN envoy

December 12, 2014 9:32 am 

UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 12 — Leaders on both sides of the conflict in South Sudan must inject "a new sense of urgency" into the peace process in order to reach a comprehensive peace agreement as soon as possible as the international community's patience is "wearing thin," a senior UN official said on Thursday.

The UN secretary-general's special representative and head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), Ellen Margrethe Loej, made the statement at a press conference in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, saying that she hoped that representatives of both parties at the peace talks will return to the negotiating table, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters here.

"The patience of the international community with both parties is wearing thin," Loej said. "The mandate of the mission was recently renewed and remains unchanged from the previous one. I believe it is fair to say that its member-states were sending both of the warring parties a clear message when the Council voted to streamline UNMISS operations earlier this year."

Loej said she looked forward to the conclusion of a consultative conference on the peace process currently being held by the armed opposition, hoping that both parties would then return to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)- sponsored peace talks with "a heightened sense of responsibility and openness to compromise" to reach a swift and successful conclusion.

On the protection of civilians' sites, Loej said that more focus was needed on fostering a safe and secure environment outside of these sites. She also said the UN was doing its best to foster and promote safe returns of displaced people but that the ultimate responsibility for the protection of civilians remains with the government.

The sites on UNMISS bases where people were staying were envisioned only as temporary solutions to protect civilians in imminent danger of physical violence and were not supposed to become permanent settlements

She also noted that while around 100,000 people are still seeking refuge in UN camps, around 1.5 million people are internally displaced throughout the world's youngest country.

She finally added that the overall humanitarian situation remains dire with an estimated 1.5 million people already experiencing crisis and emergency levels of food insecurity. This could rise to 2.5 million people in the coming weeks and months, she added.

Political in-fighting between South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar, started in December 2013 and subsequently turned into a full-fledged conflict.

The violence has left thousands of people dead and more than 1. 8 million displaced, according to the United Nations. Recently, fighting has resumed in Upper Nile and Unity states, causing fear that the humanitarian crisis would be magnified. (PNA/Xinhua)

FPV/JSD

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