This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Charlie Yaxley – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
Exactly eight years ago South Sudan gained independence and became the world’s youngest nation. Since then, the country has tragically seen more war than peace. Today UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency is appealing to its leaders to speed efforts to end what has become Africa’s largest displacement crisis.
The Revitalised Peace Agreement, signed by the warring parties on 12 September 2018, established a foundation for peace. Progress has been made but with key areas of tension still unresolved, peace is far from certain.
UNHCR believes is essential that representatives from the refugee and internally displaced communities are active and meaningful participants in the peace process. Any convincing agreement must include clear and transparent provisions for reconciliation. Mechanisms for seeking justice must be clear and they must be trusted. Many South Sudanese have been displaced repeatedly. Their faith in these processes are vital to their success.
Provisions must also be made for young people. The crisis has disproportionately impacted children, who make up nearly two-thirds of the refugee population. Ensuring that young South Sudanese – including refugees – have access to a proper education and opportunities to fulfil their potential is essential if South Sudan is to become a prosperous and peaceful nation.
More than 2.3 million South Sudanese are currently living as refugees in neighbouring countries, while 1.9 million have been internally displaced inside the country. Through the South Sudan Regional Refugee Response Plan, UNHCR and partners have appealed for $1.4 billion to provide humanitarian assistance to refugees. With only 21 per cent of funding received, refugees’ needs far outweigh available resources.