THE UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations Security Council voted on Wednesday to extend its mission in South Sudan, the world’s youngest state, which is attempting a fragile peace process but is still plagued by post-civil-war violence.
Thirteen of the council’s fifteen members voted to extend the mission’s mandate, known as UNMISS, until March 15, 2024.
China and Russia voted no.
Nicholas Haysom, the head of UNMISS, urged South Sudan’s government earlier this month to implement the peace agreement in order to hold “credible” elections next year.
UNMISS, one of the world body’s most expensive operations, will “maintain its force levels with a ceiling of 17,000 troops and 2,101 police personnel,” according to a UN statement.
The adopted resolution authorizes UNMISS to carry out tasks in four key areas: civilian protection, improving conditions for humanitarian aid delivery, supporting the peace process’s implementation, and monitoring and reporting on violations of international humanitarian law and human rights.
After a five-year civil war that claimed at least 380,000 lives ended in 2018, President Salva Kiir and his rival Riek Machar formed a transitional government and agreed to join forces in a single army to protect the population, which had been devastated by conflicts and natural disasters.
Armed conflict, however, persists in the oil-rich country, where the majority of the population lives in poverty.
Last week, Haysom admitted that there are still conflicts that “increasingly present an ethnic or tribal dimension, and, as President Kiir noted, threaten to unravel hard-won peace gains.”
Meanwhile, the United States has expressed “grave concern” about the increase in violence against civilians in South Sudan.
After years of bloody fighting that killed hundreds of thousands of people, South Sudan declared independence from Sudan on July 9, 2011. The United Nations Security Council established the UN mission just one day before South Sudan’s independence day.
In early 2020, a peace agreement was reached that resulted in the formation of a national unity government, with Salva Kiir as president and Riek Machar as deputy leader, and an agreement to hold the country’s first democratic election this year. However, the transitional government and the opposition agreed last year to postpone the election until late 2024.