The United Nations Security Council voted on Wednesday to extend its mission in South Sudan, the world’s youngest state, which is attempting a fragile peace process but is still plagued by post-civil-war violence.
Thirteen of the council’s fifteen members voted to extend the mission’s mandate, dubbed UNMISS (United Nations Mission in South Sudan), until March 15, 2024.
China and Russia voted no.
Nicholas Haysom, the head of UNMISS, urged South Sudan’s government earlier this month to implement its peace agreement in order to hold “credible” elections next year.
UNMISS, one of the world body’s most expensive operations, will “maintain its force levels with a ceiling of 17,000 troops and 2,101 police personnel,” according to a UN statement.
The adopted resolution authorises UNMISS to carry out tasks in four key areas: civilian protection, improving conditions for humanitarian aid delivery, supporting the peace process’s implementation, and monitoring and reporting on violations of international humanitarian law and human rights.
After a five-year civil war that claimed at least 380,000 lives ended in 2018, President Salva Kiir and his rival Riek Machar formed a transitional government and agreed to join forces in a single army to protect the population, which had been devastated by conflicts and natural disasters.
Armed conflict, however, persists in the oil-rich country, where the majority of the population lives in poverty.
Last week, Haysom admitted that there are still conflicts that “increasingly present an ethnic or tribal dimension, and, as President Kiir noted, threaten to unravel hard-won peace gains.”
Meanwhile, the United States has expressed “grave concern” about the increase in violence against civilians in South Sudan.