Efforts to unify soldiers in South Sudan ‘stuck’: UN envoy | South Sudan

Troops brought together at joint training centers in South Sudan were abandoned due to a lack of food, according to the United Nations.

The United Nations Special Envoy for South Sudan said Tuesday that almost no progress had been made in uniting the country’s warring forces under one army, as promised under a highly competitive peace deal.

The promise to bring government and rebel soldiers under a national banner was a cornerstone of a September 2018 peace deal that halted five years of bloodshed in which 380,000 people died.

According to David Shearer, Special Envoy for the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), the troops brought together at joint training facilities across the country were deserted due to a lack of food and other essentials.

“There has been almost no movement in critical areas of security sector reform,” Shearer said at a press conference in Juba.

“At the moment the process is stuck. It has not even passed the first stage in which forces are formed and graded. Urgent action is needed to move the process forward. “

There is a risk of renewed violence as soldiers, disaffected with the promise of peace return to their villages, are hungry and frustrated, he said.

“Disillusion is not a good thing – it could lead to frustration, anger, and possibly violence,” he said.

“A number of people who are there promising to join the armed forces are now returning to the villages … and could cause further instability on the ground.”

Shearer also criticized the South Sudanese government army for disrupting peacekeeping missions by UN forces designed to protect civilians and aid workers in trouble spots.

Last month, he said 92 blue helmets were prevented from taking up positions at a new UN base in Lobonok, about 110 kilometers from Juba, by government forces fighting the National Salvation Front (NAS), a rebel Group.

The September 2018 agreement, which NAS did not sign, paved the way for the creation of a power-sharing government in Juba, which took control in February 2020 and officially ended the war.

But the young country, born in 2011 from a struggle for independence with Sudan, is still fragile and plagued by armed violence at the local level and crisis levels of food security.