This post was written by guest blogger and Enough Project intern Emily Brandon.
On February 7, there was a South Sudan briefing on Capitol Hill to discuss the latest developments from the ground, analysis on the Cessation of Hostilities agreement, and concrete policy recommendations. The briefing featured Hans Rouw, Program Manager Security and Disarmament at PAX, Geoffrey L. Duke, from South Sudan Action Network on Small Arms, or SSANSA, and Akshaya Kumar, Sudan and South Sudan Policy Analyst for the Enough Project.
Recommendations from the panel focused on three important priority areas: protection of civilians and security reform; dialogue for truth, justice, and the long path of reconciliation; and an inclusive national political dialogue and constitutional review process.
Fewer than half of the 723,900 internally displaced people in South Sudan have received support from UNMISS or other humanitarian organizations. According to Duke, South Sudan has developed a “complex ethnic dimension” and is in dire need of reconciliation. He suggested that such reconciliation efforts should be organized in close collaboration with the churches and state and local actors, not just members of government and opposition forces.
During the briefing, Kumar stressed the dire humanitarian crisis unfolding and the importance of accountability in paving a new sustainable foundation for South Sudan. She also emphasized the key role the United States, especially the Department of State, can play in facilitating and supporting the peace process. An integral part of that which will include reinstating the U.S. government presence in Juba.
Lastly, the panelists discussed how South Sudan must address the root causes of the conflict by involving a broad range of civil society and state and local actors through increased communication and the provision of a platform for all voices to be heard, including the displaced populations.
Clear throughout the discussion was how vital domestic and international engagement is to ensuring comprehensive peace, as “the ceasefire is only an initial step,” said Rouw.
Photo: Panelits speak at Hill briefing. L to R: Geoffrey L. Duke, Hans Rouw, and Akshaya Kumar (Enough Project)