South Sudan

UNMISS Chief Appeals for a United South Sudan

Ellen Margrethe Løj addressing journalists in Juba

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative and the head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, ambulance Ellen Margrethe Løj has appealed to the political, generic military leaders and the entire population of the fragile nation to embrace unity.

“All people in South Sudan, regardless of their ethnic affiliation, must unite towards creating a national identity,” Ms. Løj said underscoring the potential of the resource-rich African country to prosper despite its ongoing challenges.

Løj was addressing reporters at the UN compound in the capital, Juba on Monday in what is expected to be the final press briefing in her capacity as the head of UNMISS.

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She noted that creating a prosperous future is possible because South Sudan is such a rich country in terms of resources and fertile land.

Ms. Løj will step down at the end of November after more than two years of leading UNMISS, which was set up in 2011 after South Sudan gained independence from Sudan.

It played a major role in trying to protect civilians when war broke out in 2013 between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and those of then Vice-President Riek Machar.

The situation however remained volatile in South Sudan and she admitted it in the same press briefing saying the job is not yet finished.

“We have not yet finished our job, we don’t have peace in South Sudan and we don’t have prosperity,” she said adding that everyone should work towards peace and prosperity.

Løj stated that the desires of South Sudanese before and after attaining independence in 2013 have been shattered by the war that broke out in 2013 between forces loyal to President and his for vice Dr. Riek Machar.

“I am extremely depressed that their hopes and aspirations at the time of independence have not yet been fulfilled, the conflict that erupted in December 2013 continues to make many South Sudanese homeless, internally displaced or refugees in neighboring countries,” she noted.

She urged all South Sudanese and especially the country’s leaders to put the well-being of their people, including the boys and girls, in the forefront of their actions.

“When peace arrives, the South Sudanese could feed themselves, take care of their families, fulfill their dreams, and see the country that they fought so hard for, grow and prosper.”

She believes that like South Africa, Ghana and other many countries that comprise various ethnic groups, South Sudan can achieve national unity.

Asked if South Sudan is on the verge of collapse or becoming ‘failed State,’ Ms. Løj said she does not want to “put labels” on the country but acknowledged that there is fighting in various areas, and the economy is in a very bad shape.

“Something has to be done in order to turn that around and to start moving forward, and first and foremost the guns have to be silent,” she said.

“I have not given up on South Sudan,” she stressed, explaining that she used to say to her colleagues: “Yes, when we look at the news in the morning it might be depressing, if you go on a patrol or visit and monitor human rights it might be depressing, but hang on to every little glimmer of hope and argue for that hope to expand because we are here to improve the lives of the people of South Sudan.”


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