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Interview: The challenges facing the people of South Sudan

A delegation from the United Nations Security Council is expected to visit South Sudan this week.
The visit comes after the 15-member Council recently approved the deployment of a 4,000-strong protection force responsible for providing a secure environment in and around Juba, under the authority of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), in the wake of recent violence stemming from political differences.
In a brief interview today, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for South Sudan and head of UNMISS, Ellen Margrethe Løj, spoke about the visit and its significance.
UN News Centre: What will be one the key things you expect the Council to be interested in?
Ellen Margrethe Løj: The Security Council visit is a chance for the Council to see, firsthand, some of the challenges facing the people of the South Sudan – especially those who are located in UNMISS Protection of Civilian sites – but to also meet and interact with ordinary South Sudanese, civil society, women’s groups, etcetera, and to hear from them what their daily life is, so that all in all the Security Council will to get a picture of some of the security, human rights, and other challenges they face on daily basis.
UN News Centre: In your own discussions with the delegation and those they will have with the government what do you hope to achieve?
Ellen Margrethe Løj: First and foremost, I hope that will be having a very constructive engagement between the Security Council and the Government of Transitional National Unity. But we are also hoping that it will be an opportunity for the Council to hear from the government itself about any challenges or concerns that they feel they are facing in providing the necessary support, both to the implementation of our Mission’s new mandate, but most importantly, to the implementation of the peace agreement.
As you know the Security Council has been very concerned, as are we, here in the Mission, with the continuous fighting in parts of the country, as well as the overall security and humanitarian situation, so we are hopeful that the visit will provide an impetus for frank discussions on how best the Government and the UN can work together for the benefit of the people of South Sudan.
UN News Centre: How important is the timing of this visit?
Ellen Margrethe Løj: It is very close to the time where we have to provide the first report, or the Secretary-General has to provide the first report on the progress achieved in implementing our new mandate. So, in that sense it is very timely. And I think, the Council – and I hope the Council will be interested to hear, both from us and from the government – about the progress we have made through our discussions, in particular, on the deployment of the regional protection force for Juba. But regardless of the timing, let me say that, any visit of the UN Security Council is an important event. Because it indicates a firm commitment to bring, in this case, to South Sudan, the much-needed peace. But it also shows to the country that is being visited – and here, South Sudan – that the whole UN and all the member states of the UN, care about the circumstances on the ground, and what the people of South Sudan are facing. So, it is really an opportunity for the Security Council to reaffirm, to the government and to the people of South Sudan, that the UN is here to work with the Government, and to improve the lives of the people of South Sudan.


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