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Berhanu Kebede, the chief of staff for RJMEC.

Peace monitors urge government to avail funds for full deployment of forces                                                                                 

The Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (RJMEC) on Monday urged the revitalized transitional government of national unity (RTGoNU) to avail funds for the redeployment of the remaining 49,000 Necessary Unified Forces (NUF).

Berhanu Kebede, the chief of staff for RJMEC said that only 4,000 forces out of the 53,000 graduated in the first phase since August 2022, have been redeployed, translating into 6 percent of the forces.

“Regarding completion of the unification of forces, there has been no substantive progress since the reported redeployment of 4,000 Phase I Necessary Unified Forces during the last quarter,” Kebede said in quarterly report to the national parliament in Juba.

“RJMEC recommends RTGONU provide as a matter of urgency, all the resources necessary to deploy the remaining NUF, complete harmonization of the command structure so that the country can have a unified force with a national character under one commander-in-chief,” he said.

 Kebede said that the parties to the 2018 revitalized peace agreement also need to fund the critical Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) process. 

“DDR is a critical component of the unification process which should not be ignored.  However, it is encouraging that the Strategic Defense and Security Review Board are now in the process of validating the security sector policy framework,” he said.

Kebede noted that there has been slow progress on the preparations for Phase II training of the NUF, adding that the situation in cantonment sites remains dire due to lack of enough food, medicines, clean water and shelters.

South Sudan’s transitional unity government is supposed to graduate in total 83,000 NUF, consisting of police, army, wildlife, prisons and intelligence services.

Kebede also disclosed that the humanitarian situation has been compounded by the continuous depreciation of the South Sudan Pound (SSP) against the U.S dollar.

He said the depreciation of the local currency, has inflated food prices, which increased by 19 percent in February 2024 compared to January 2024, thus worsening the situation of the population, as 9 million people are already classified acutely food insecure.

 Kebede noted that majority of the returnees and refugees, who fled conflict in neighboring Sudan, are lacking clean water, food, shelter and healthcare due to limited resources available for humanitarian response.

“Overcrowding and unhygienic living conditions were reported in Bulukat and Renk transit centres in Upper Nile State,” he said.

 Kebede also said that taxation of humanitarian relief materials, presence of illegal checkpoints, and insecurity along humanitarian corridors continued to hinder speedy humanitarian response.

However, he noted that efforts are ongoing to improve the business environment by formalizing a good number of informal businesses.

“There is an innovative initiative launched by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Stanbic Bank to provide microfinance services for vulnerable youth, ex-combatants, returnees and internally displaced persons,” Kebede said.

 “Despite these commendable activities, the relevant pieces of legislation to ensure sustainability have not been passed, namely the bills for the establishment of the Youth Enterprise Development Fund and the Women Enterprise Development Fund,” he added.

Kebede urged the government to speed up enactment of the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing (CTRH) and the Compensation and Reparation Authority (CRA) bills, which were approved in December 2023 by the Council of Ministers.

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