The European Union (EU) Director of the Horn of Africa Division Patrick Simonnet and the Desk Officer for South Sudan Stergios Varvarousis in May visited the challenged East African country. After meeting the EU Delegation staff in Juba, Mr Simonnet together with the EU ambassador Dr Sinead Walsh, Mr. Varvarousis and Frances Collins, Head of Political section also visited Yei Town to see first-hand the work of the peace monitors in the area.
The Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM) has a Monitoring and Verification Team (MVT) based at the local UN Mission in South Sudan compound and plays a critical role in monitoring, verifying and reporting on the implementation of South Sudan’s ceasefire in Yei River State.
The MVT Yei’s regular patrols include the verification of forces, investigating allegations of violations to the ceasefire, and meeting regularly with communities and representatives of signatory parties to the ceasefire.
While the ceasefire has generally held across most parts of the country since the peace agreement was signed in September 2018, the area around Yei has seen more recent violence. The town’s once thriving market is open, some children have returned to school but many businesses remain shuttered.
The EU Delegation while in Yei also met with State Deputy Governor the Honourable Youstos Baba Dema Lukudu, members of cabinet, Brigadier General Malong Agat, the Commander of the South Sudan People’s Defense Force, First Brigade, and discussed the planned cantonment of forces and the importance of ensuring access for CTSAMVM’s monitors in order to fulfil CTSAMVM’s mandate.
Under a famous mango tree in Yei Town, the EU team team met with more than 150 of the civilians displaced by fighting in Mukaya, 20 kilometres from Yei, earlier in the year. The small community outlined their security concerns and their wish that peace and security return so they can resume their lives.
“We continue to ask all parties to the conflict to resolve their differences by dialogue and not by fighting,” Mr. Simonnet told the assembled crowd. “The European Union will continue to stand by the people of South Sudan in their efforts for peace and development.”
The EU through the African Peace Facility, a fund set up to support the African Union’s efforts in the area of peace and security, has provided €5 million in 2019 to IGAD in support of CTSAMVM’s core functions and activities as set out in the peace agreement .