— The UNMISS should fulfil their humanitarian mission in South Sudan by protecting the IDPs until there is a tangible success in the peace process that has become static unless IGAD and AU are allowing another genocide or something worse than the 2016 massacres, they should forbid.
The assumption that the IDPs should feel safe under the armpit of President Kiir is irrational and incautious because common sense dictates that a person’s safety, though matters in day time, matters the most at night where one rests unwary of what might befalls him or her off guard. Therefore, if during all these times their having been coming out of UNMISS and going back to the camp doesn’t explain that, than what will? We are all aware without referring to the signed agreement that:
1- The STATE OF EMERGENCY in most part of the Country has not been lifted.
2- The UNIFIED FORCES have not been graduated and deployed, and this quash the PERCEPTION that IDPs should be safe because the oppositions are in the city.
The opposition’s leaders are in Juba without their forces. And this also is not a guarantee that others such us IDPs can be safe. The IDPs don’t fall under the category that the leaders fall under.
3- DEMILITARIZATION has not been carried out. But the most important of all, that should come last in favour of the IDPs is stated in CHAPTER ONE of the Revitalised Agreement of the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan that states:
1.2.2. Implement this Agreement and restore permanent and sustainable peace, security and stability in the country;
1.2.3. Expedite the relief, protection, voluntary and dignified repatriation, rehabilitation, resettlement and reintegration of IDPs and returnees, working closely with the United Nations and other international agencies;
1.2.4. Facilitate and oversee a people-driven process of national reconciliation and healing through an independent mechanism in accordance with this Agreement including budgetary provisions for compensation and reparations.
Knowing that none of the above provisions has been implemented or will be implemented within the next few months, the decision of David Shearer, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, seems to have different motivations that have nothing to do with the safety of the civilians and the well-being of the internally displaced persons in the country.
First of all, it is a shame that the safety of the South Sudanese citizens and their welfare had to be left in the hands of the United Nations because their own government was killing and displacing them and secondly, many South Sudanese regret how UNMISS and many foreign NGOs have been treated for trying to protect and provide for the citizens whose lives were endangered by none other than their own government; however, nothing has changed in the last few years despite that two peace agreements were signed within the last 6 years. Therefore, the decision of David Shearer which has influenced the UN Security Council to believe that the IDPs would be safe under the same leadership that displaced them and killed their loved ones, and refused to implement the peace agreement, not just once but twice, is nothing but a confession of a conflict of interest.
From the start of the conflict in December 2013, the United Nations took the side of civilians over the interest of the government of Salva Kiir which led to verbal conflicts between the previous UNMISS heads and the regime in Juba. In this battle, the government of Salva Kiir accused the UNMISS and the UN of running a parallel government which heated up their bilateral relations and to ease such tensions, the UN had to change head of the mission a few times because the previous heads of the mission refused to surrender their integrity and the mandates of the UNMISS.
Some of the previous heads of UNMISS like Hilde Johnson, the Norwegian diplomat and politician, walked out with her head high and even had to write her book that called a spade rightfully as a spade; however, when David Shearer came in and settled, the world’s mission slowly began to lose its audacity on real life matters that are affecting the IDPs. At some point David Shearer’s reports at the UN Security Council begin to sound like reports prepared for or by President Salva Kiir.
In October 2019, David Shearer reported to the United Nations that the parties should form the Transitional Government by November 12, 2019, which was the exact version that the government of President Kiir was pushing for at the time although the pre-transitional period was not completed.
We can therefore conclude that one of the reasons the transitional government had to be formed before the transitional period is completed is because of David Shearer and the reasons the UN peacekeepers are being withdrawn from the UNMISS is also because of David Shearer. It’s unarguably true that both positions, forming an incomplete RTGoNU and withdrawing the UN peacekeepers, favors one side in the conflict – that of President Kiir – against the interest of civilians and the armed oppositions.
In addition, the UNMISS under David Shearer is running severals government flavored projects in government controlled areas especially in Bhar el Ghazal and Pibor Administrative area. In Pibor, for example, UNMISS is running a quasi state government that provides training, logics and security for the local populations and armed youth that are pro-government.
In most of his speeches David Shearer has confirmed that the UN peacekeepers that are being withdrawn from the Protection of Civilians Sites will be redeployed in conflicts infested areas. In other words the forces that are being withdrawn from the UN PoCs will be redeployed in communities, mostly in government controlled areas, to provide community policing in attempt to reduce tribal clashes like those that are happening in Jonglei, Lakes and Warrap States. Looking at it critically, these are not the mandates of the UN peacekeepers but an actual responsibility that should be handled by the local police.
In addition, UNMISS is providing more capacity building trainings and services for police like what they did recently in Terekeka where they built a police station.
Also read: UNMISS constructs first-ever police station in Terekeka, South Sudan
UNMISS has been providing these services, and more, for one side in the conflict and therefore, the citizens should demand to know whether or not UNMSS has hidden mandates that they want to pursue. Because of these one-sided stands, UNMISS is undermining the armed oppositions and also undermining the implementation of the peace agreement.
For far too long, the government of Salva Kiir has been trying to bribe foreign firms and diplomats to market its strategies especially to win some support from the Western World and they have spent millions of dollars, if not billions, within the last seven years to try to achieve that. It would be, therefore, unwise for Salva Kiir government to travel thousands miles to bribe firms in America when they can simply bribe the heads of UNMISS or the U.S. ambassador to South Sudan.
There is no prove that they haven’t tried this on UNMISS heads and U.S. Diplomats in Juba and therefore it can’t be ruled out if David Shearer has succumbed to financial interest, business interests or any other forms of capital investments that the government might have tried on him in attempt to manipulate UNMISS mandates in the country.
It is expected that instead of pulling out, UNMISS, as a humanitarian organisation should fulfil its humanitarian responsibility by not just pulling out prematurely but also making sure that those who will be affected by their decisions are in better position to look after themselves. In other words, UNMISS must ensure that the agreement is implemented, IDPs are repatriated and settled, and there is a process of reconciliation and healing in place before they relinquish their current mandates.
To my beloved South Sudanese who are not aware or may be just ignorant, if we want a sustainable peace, let us not ignore a pinch in the agreement.
~ Deng Elijah contributed to this article.
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