Tuesday 10 December 2019

President Michael D Higgins attends high level South Sudan peace talks

Pictured is President Michael D Higgins at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
Pictured is President Michael D Higgins at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa

Joyce Fegan

President Michael D Higgins this morning held high level talks about the possibility of peace in the war-torn country of South Sudan.

"These peace talks are crucial," said Mr Higgins after his meeting with the African Union, which 54 countries in Africa are members of.

"I'm after coming from a meeting with the African Union, with the chair (Dr Dlamini Zuma) and the vice chair (Erastas Mwencha) and with ministers within the African Union and South Sudan was among of the issues that we discussed," he said from Ethiopia.

"The prospects of peace are still there and that those who have expressed opinions in South Sudan are desperately hoping for peace," said the President.

Last December a civil war broke out in the African country just three years after independence had been declared.

As a result of the conflict almost two million people have fled the country with 200,000 of those taking shelter in camps in Ethiopia where Goal and Concern are working.

Mr Higgins visited these camps last Tuesday.

Up to 1,000 people a day were crossing the border but with the rainy season over the last few months the numbers had reduced.

"Now into the dry season if the peace talks break down one is left with the prospect of the resumption of hostilities which would lead to a further 100,000 refugees piling in on top of the camps that we visited," said the President.

Minister Higgins, who was joined in the meeting by Minister for State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Sean Sherlock, said it was a successful meeting.

"We had a very, very fine and lengthy discussion and it went on for about twice as long as we had planned because we had so much to discuss but it was a very, very valuable meeting," he stated.

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