Hopes of peace as return of South Sudan opposition leader raises chances of a unity government

In response to the return of South Sudan’s opposition leader, Riek Machar, to Juba, Oxfam’s Country Director in South Sudan, Zlatko Gegic said:

"Riek Machar's return to Juba is a positive step towards the formation of South Sudan's Transitional Government of National Unity. Over four months late, the transitional government is desperately needed to deliver lasting peace, reconciliation and justice for the people of South Sudan. The country’s leaders must now demonstrate their commitment to the deal and work urgently to end needless suffering for millions of South Sudanese facing a dire humanitarian crisis. Across the country, at least 2.8 million people are struggling to get enough food and 2.3 million have been forced from their homes.

"We urge all parties to the conflict to live up to their commitments and ensure the ceasefire is respected. The people of South Sudan deserve unimpeded access to humanitarian services, guarantees of safety and protection and a voice in shaping the country's future.

"The success of the peace deal will be reflected in improvements in the humanitarian situation and the confidence of displaced people to return home."

Notes to editors: 

Riek Machar, who was the vice president of South Sudan until July 2013, fled the country in December 2013 after a political dispute between him and President Salva Kiir escalated into a civil war that took on ethnic dimensions. Following the peace agreement in August 2015, he was reinstated as vice president in February.  

Despite a general lull in active combat since the signing of the peace deal, the ceasefire agreement has been repeatedly violated as fighting has flared up in areas less affected by the war.

Since the peace agreement was signed in August 2015, the UN estimates over 100,000 people, mainly from Western Equatoria and Western Bahr el Ghazal states, have fled into neighbouring countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo and East Darfur in Sudan. 

Contact information: 

Faith Kasina | fkasina@oxfam.org.uk | +211 (0) 955 477 540

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