JUNE 23, 2017 – UN Secretary-General António Guterres says South Sudan’s leaders must end the civil war that has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions.
Guterres, who made the remarks when he visited South Sudanese refugees in Uganda on the sidelines of the ‘Solidarity Summit’ to raise 2.2 billion dollars for the refugees emergency, urged world to show solidarity.
“It is time for the war to end. It is time for all the leaders of South Sudan to understand that they need to stop this war.
“Peace in South Sudan is a must for these people to be able to have a future,” the Secretary-General said.
The UN chief expressed gratitude for the efforts made by the Heads of State of the region, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the African Union and by the UN to help create the conditions for peace to be re-established.
“At the same time, I cannot forget that twelve years ago I was here, in June, in this same place.
“I was marking World Refugee Day with South Sudanese refugees that were singing with joy because they were going back home soon,” Guterres, who was then UN High Commissioner for Refugees, regretted.
He said he had later accompanied many of the refugees across the border with the hope that the their new country would live in peace.
“Unfortunately, that had not been the case. South Sudan’s leaders ‘do not deserve the people of their country,” Guterres said, stressing that the South Sudanese people have been suffering enormously “in an endless war”.
He lauded Uganda’s hosting almost one million South Sudanese refugees “as sisters and brothers and sharing with them their land and everything they have.”
He urged the international community to show solidarity with those that had fled their homes, as well as with the Ugandan Government and people.
“In a world where so many people are selfishly closing their doors, closing their borders, not allowing refugees to come, this example deserves praise and admiration from the whole international community,” Guterres said.
The UN chief visited the Imvepi Refugee Reception Centre in the Arua district of northern Uganda, the first stop for many South Sudanese refugees once they crossed the border into Uganda.
The camp, which opened in February this year, is already filling up, hosting some 120,000 refugees, mostly women and children, fleeing violence and instability in the neighbouring country.
In just the past year, the overall refugee population in Uganda has more than doubled from 500,000 to more than 1.25 million, making the East African country host to the world’s fastest growing refugee emergency.
The UN chief pointed out that at the ‘Solidarity Summit’ on Friday, the international community would have the opportunity to express its solidarity, “responding to our appeal for massive financial support, both for humanitarian aid for the refugees”.
“But also for the investments necessary for the education system, the health system, the infrastructure, the [local] environment, to be able to cope with this enormous challenge”.
The ‘Solidarity Summit,’ which opened on Thursday in the Ugandan capital,let if Kampala, and is expected to wrap up on Friday.
It was co-hosted by Uganda and the UN to rally international support for refugees and host communities in the form of donations, investments and innovative programmes.