UN on Tuesday convened a face-to-face meeting bringing South Sudan refugee representatives with the parties involved in key peace negotiations in Khartoum to ensure end to civil war.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the latest dialogue will help ensure that refugee voices continue to play a pivotal role in the revitalised peace effort to end the country’s devastating civil war.
“It is critical to have refugee voices heard. Peace-building efforts cannot afford to ignore them,” Arnauld Akodjenou, Special Adviser to the UNHCR on South Sudan, said in a statement.
He said the refugee representatives in Khartoum would serve to remind the world of the human toll that continues every day there is no peace in South Sudan.
“They can also become strong peace advocates by spreading the word to refugee communities where they live, or upon return to South Sudan if they voluntarily plan to do so,” Akodjenou noted.
The agency said the refugees, who flew in from the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Sudan, will share their views, aspirations and expectations.
He urged participants to find peace for the millions of South Sudanese whose lives have been uprooted by the conflict.
The current peace accord brokered by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, an east African bloc, specifically calls for its dissemination to South Sudanese people inside the country.
And also to refugees living in exile, so that the people most affected by the war can understand, support and own the peace process.
Since the start of the conflict in 2013, some 2.4 million people have fled South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, as refugees.
Another 1.8 million are displaced inside the country.
South Sudan’s government and the main rebel group inked a power-sharing deal in the Sudanese capital in July which they hope will end years of conflict in the country.
South Sudan descended into a civil war that ravaged the country in 2013 after a political disagreement between President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, a former vice president.
Several attempts to end the conflict have ended in failure.