A revived peace deal signed by the government and opposition groups four years ago ended years of conflict in the world’s youngest country, which has been independent since July 2011.
“The relative peace has seen IDPs and refugees return home voluntarily, although more formal reintegration remains a challenge due to limited resources,” Mr. Abdelbagi said.
Roadmap and challenges
In addition, the parties have agreed on an action plan to fulfill the remaining tasks under the agreement, paving the way for elections when the transition period ends in 2025.
The vice president added that a command structure for the joint forces has also been established, describing the development as a “big leap” towards their transformation and regularization.
However, the implementation of the peace agreement faces several challenges, and the sanctions imposed on individuals and entities by international partners are a disservice to this course, he said.
Review targeted sanctions
“We call on the international community and in particular the UN to review the individual and targeted sanctions against South Sudan, the arms embargo, to enable the successful completion of the remaining provisions of the peace agreement outlined in the new roadmap.”
Floods and food shortages
Mr. Abdelbagi also reported on other obstacles facing South Sudan. Flooding has affected up to 80 percent of the country in the past three years, making it clear that “climate change is real.”
To mitigate the impact on both lives and livelihoods, the authorities are donating $10 million to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) to help displaced communities.
“However, we need the support of the international community to reach all areas and communities affected by floods and droughts,” he said.
The government also conducted an analysis earlier this year that found an estimated 6.8 million people, or more than half of the population, are food insecure and about 2.37 million are in emergency situations.
“Severe food shortages are exacerbated by shocks including floods, prolonged drafts, physical insecurity and the effects of COVID-19,” he said.
Impacts of COVID-19
Addressing the pandemic, Mr. Abdelbagi stated that South Sudan has been able to contain the spread of the coronavirus through deliberate and targeted actions. The result has been a very low morbidity and mortality rate.
As of May 9, only 17,513 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 138 deaths, have been reported since the pandemic began, and vaccine coverage among adults is 45 percent.
“Despite this positive health news, the pandemic has had a negative impact on the economy, starting with a dramatic decline in domestic production and revenue collection, followed by an increase in the cost of living,” he said.
“These economic consequences are far-reaching, seriously weakening the formation of human capital, for example, especially in education, as the closure deprived school-age children of learning opportunities.”
Promoting peace through mediation
Abdelbagi also highlighted South Sudan’s efforts to promote peace and stability in the region and beyond.
The country successfully mediated the armed conflict in the neighboring country of Sudan, which resulted in the conclusion of a peace agreement in 2020.
“South Sudan is ready to mediate the current conflict between the army and the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) in Sudan so that Sudan can finally enjoy lasting peace,” he said.
Recently, the authorities offered to mediate between Egypt and Ethiopia in their differences over the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and other situations involving the Tigray conflict.
“By participating in regional peace and stability, South Sudan has demonstrated its ability to be a reliable partner in the pursuit of regional and international peace and security,” he said.
“Furthermore, the Republic of South Sudan will contribute one battalion of peacekeeping forces to be part of the East African force to bring peace to the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Turning to the war in Ukraine, Mr. Agany pointed to how it has devastated lives in the country and affected the global economy.
“From a moral perspective, the government of South Sudan calls on Russia and Ukraine to cease all hostilities and resolve the dispute through diplomatic and constructive dialogue to avoid further consequences.”