News / Africa

UN Mission Warns of Economic, Refugee Crises in South Sudan

United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) Special Representative to Secretary-General (SRSG) Hilde Johnson, March 6, 2012.United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) Special Representative to Secretary-General (SRSG) Hilde Johnson, March 6, 2012.
x
United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) Special Representative to Secretary-General (SRSG) Hilde Johnson, March 6, 2012.
United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) Special Representative to Secretary-General (SRSG) Hilde Johnson, March 6, 2012.
Jill Craig
NAIROBI — On Monday, South Sudan will celebrate its one-year anniversary as an independent nation.  The United Nations Mission in South Sudan was given a one-year mandate to ensure the protection of civilians, help with peace consolidation, and assist in state building.  Hilde Johnson, the U.N. secretary-general's special representative in South Sudan, met with reporters Thursday and discussed her observations of the country's and mission’s first year. 

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005 between the government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement was intended to end the second Sudanese civil war, develop democratic governance, and force the sharing of oil revenues on an equitable basis.  It also required a referendum by which the people of southern Sudan could decide their future.

In January of 2011, the people voted overwhelmingly to secede from the north and create the Republic of South Sudan.  However, the first year as an independent country has not been easy, as U.N. special representative Hilde Johnson can attest.

"On the mission, can we say that the mission has been accomplished?  Absolutely not," said Johnson. "If you look at the mandate and Security Council Resolution 1996, the mandated tasks of the mission cannot be implemented in one year or in 12 months.  Which is also the reason that I have every reason to believe that the Security Council will renew the mandate for another 12 and we might also see a longer presence of the mission."

Economic situation

Johnson says that the dire economic situation in South Sudan is a primary concern.  South Sudan’s economy is dependent upon oil, which must be transported using a pipeline that runs through Sudan to the Red Sea.  After a disagreement with Sudan over transit fees, the government of South Sudan decided to stop oil production earlier this year.

"Clearly, the shutdown of the oil production following the decision of the Cabinet of January 20 has had a significant impact on the South Sudanese economy," said Johnson. "It took a little while before it started to kick in, but we’re seeing an inflation rate of 80 percent, which was reported by the Minister of Finance to the parliament in connection with next year’s budget.  Of course, the loss of 98 percent of income is significant."

Border issues

Johnson says that people living near the highly-contentious borders are experiencing even greater economic hardship.

"In the border areas, the inflation rate is higher, not least because of the closure of the border with Sudan and the lack of access of food, [and] because of the infrastructural challenges to get food to these areas.  So we’re seeing there even a doubling of that inflation rate, in some areas," Johnson said.

Although improvements have been made, ethnic violence has not stopped in South Sudan.  Between December of 2011 and February of 2012, hundreds of fatalities were recorded by UNMISS in Jonglei State, mostly between the Murle and Lou Nuer communities.

The violence also continues across the border, where Sudan's armed forces are fighting rebels in two states.

"We’re seeing the refugee numbers out of South[ern] Kordofan and Blue Nile increase by the week, with thousands actually.  So now we have 175,000 caseload in refugee camps across the border, coming out of the two northern states.  Secondly, we’re seeing UNHCR projecting an increase up to 235,000. This is [a] burden on a new and independent country, that we should not underestimate," said Johnson.

"Small victories"

However, despite these problems, Johnson says that some small victories have taken place in the young nation’s first year.

“My assessment is that, that the fact that we’re seeing two things happening," said Johnson. "One, full-scale war has been avoided, and two, stability in South Sudan in its first year has been achieved.  Two very basic, but very critical achievements.”

Representatives from the governments of South Sudan and Sudan are currently meeting in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, to discuss issues such as the oil pipeline and border demarcation - including the flashpoint town of Abyei.  The U.N. Security Council has set August 2 as the deadline to conclude discussions.

You May Like

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More