Pope Francis Appreciates Liberia’s Sara Beysolow Nyanti, UN Deputy Special Representative To Sudan

The Apostolic Journey of His Holiness Pope Francis to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan from January 31 to February 5, 2023 brought the people of those countries a great relief as he spoke about the rapid assistance of the people of both countries visited.

While in Juba, the capitol of South Sudan, the Pope Francis poured praises on United Nations’ Deputy Special Representative to the Secretary General and Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator, Sara Beysolow Nyanti who is also a Liberian for her services to humanity, noting that her representation represents an opportunity for people to realize what has been going on for years in that country.

“A country with the greatest enduring refugee crisis on the continent: at least four million children of this land are displaced; food insecurity and malnutrition affect two-thirds of the population, and forecasts predict a humanitarian tragedy that could further worsen in the course of this year. So, I would like to thank you, above all because you and many others did not sit around analysing the situation, but went straight to work. You, Madam, have travelled throughout the country; you have looked into the eyes of mothers and witnessed the pain they feel for the situation of their children. I was moved when you said that, despite all that they are suffering, smiles and hope have never faded from their faces”, Pope Francis amid heavy applauds poured praises on Madam Nyanti.

Click to read the full speech of the Pope

For her Madam Sara Beysolow has stressed the overwhelming need of peace in South Sudan, and further recognized by Pope Francis for her impactful and resilient work done over the period especially in humanitarian and peacekeeping operations.

She has more than 20 years of professional experience and was appointed as United Nations Assistant Secretary General since December 2021.

Ms. Nyanti brings more than 20 years of experience in international development and humanitarian affairs including in conflict and post-conflict settings, most recently serving as Resident Coordinator in Nepal (2021).

She also served as United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative in Yemen (2019-2020) and in The Gambia (2015-2017).

 Prior to her senior-level representational roles, she served in numerous technical capacities in UNICEF and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) related to setting up systems for large scale grant management, social protection/cash transfers, HIV/AIDS, health and education.

Currently, she is serving mission in South Sudan, working with about 12M.

Speaking when she met Pope Francis, Ambassador Nyanti said peace and opportunities for women and children in South Sudan is key.

“Your Holiness, I can attest, it is the women, the children, the elderly, and people with disabilities who suffer the most” Amb. Nyanti stated.

The hard working, astute and result oriented Liberian and UN Diplomat however, stressed to Pope Francis that beyond the painful stories of the people of South Sudan, she has seen opportunities and the need  to support the affected communities in achieving their potential.

She re-emphasized the need that peace is a consistent plea among all the people she met.

 Whether it is women’s groups in Wau, working on community cohesion and agriculture, or displaced men and women in Bentiu or Malakal, the call for peace is overwhelming”, she re-echoed.

According to her, if the women of South Sudan are given an opportunity to develop, to have space to be productive, South Sudan will be transformed.

She further indicated that women are the key to transformation, and they can lead their communities towards a better future.

Moreover , she pointed out that only when there is peace, will children be able to reach their full potential and will people be able to live a life of dignity, joined in coexistence and commonality while celebrating differences.

She at the same stressed the  need for  respect for humanitarian principles and International Humanitarian Law.

Madam Nyanti assures the Pope that Humanitarian workers are working around the clock to respond to the urgent needs of the affected communities.

However, she was quick to add that security challenges often force staff members to relocate and activities to pause until after the situation has improved.

According to latest statistics,  South Sudan continues to be the most dangerous place for aid workers, followed by Afghanistan and Syria.

In 2022, over 390 incidents against humanitarian workers were reported.  Nine (9) humanitarian workers lost their lives in the line of duty.

” I call on all stakeholders to respect International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law and ensure safe and unhindered access for humanitarian workers to the affected people” Ambassador Nyanti noted.

In her statement she pointed out that despite the challenges they face, they will continue to deepen their efforts with  partners across the humanitarian, peace, and development spectrum, to support the people of South Sudan on their path to prosperity and peace.

“We will also continue to work closely with the Government of South Sudan to enhance our joint efforts to positively impact people’s lives,

This is not only our job, but also our purpose”, she added.

Madam Nyanti assures the people of South Sudan that they are there to serve them , very conscious of their  limitations but are aware of the opportunities.

“Your Holiness, you represent a symbol of hope for millions of people across the globe and you bring with you a message of peace to South Sudan. Through your visit, my hope is renewed. If we all work together, the people of South Sudan can achieve peace and realize the potential of this incredible Country”, Madam Nyanti explained.

Speaking to Pope Francis about the humanitarian situation in South Sudan,  she stated that it was an awesome and historic privilege to serve humanity in such a way and especially to have met the Pope of Vatican.

“Your Holiness, Pope Francis, I am honored to be here today, this is a momentous opportunity to draw the world’s attention to the situation in South Sudan, at a time when multiple humanitarian crises are emerging concurrently”, she said.

According to her, the humanitarian context in South Sudan is worrying.

Ambassador Nyanti stated that over a decade, the South Sudanese people have experienced conflict, social and political instability, climate shocks, violence, displacement, food insecurity, lack of education opportunities and access to health care systems, among others.

Providing some statistics about the worrisome situation in South Sudan, the Liberian and UN diplomat disclosed  that in South Sudan, over two million people are displaced across the country, and an additional two million are refugees outside the Country.

Below is the full speech of  Madam Nyanti

Speech: Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General/Resident Coordinator/Humanitarian Coordinator Sara Beysolow Nyanti, Papal Visit – Juba, South Sudan

Your Holiness, Pope Francis, I am honored to be here today with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, your esteemed delegations and the people of South Sudan. All protocols observed.

This is a momentous opportunity to draw the world’s attention to the situation in South Sudan, at a time when multiple humanitarian crises are emerging concurrently. 

The humanitarian context in South Sudan is worrying. For over a decade, the South Sudanese people have experienced conflict, social and political instability, climate shocks, violence, displacement, food insecurity, lack of education opportunities and access to health care systems.

Today in South Sudan, over two million people are displaced across the country, and an additional two million are refugees outside the country.  South Sudan ranks fourth on the list of the world’s most neglected displacement crises. It is also the largest refugee crisis in Africa.

Extreme levels of food insecurity and malnutrition affect two-thirds of the country’s population. This situation makes South Sudan one of the worst food emergencies globally. An estimated eight million people are expected to experience food insecurity in 2023.

In addition to this, insecurity, fueled by intercommunal violence, crime, and impunity, continues to hamper South Sudan’s peace efforts. Women and girls are extremely vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence, and they risk being violated while carrying out their daily routines. Children risk being abducted, recruited by local armed groups, or trafficked. Access to justice and the rule of law are limited for many people who experience crimes and violations.

The cumulative impact of four consecutive years of above-normal rainfall has contributed to the destruction and harm to people’s lives and livelihoods.  Such climate shocks exacerbate the already dire situation.

While people’s needs are increasing, the resources available to support them are dwindling. In 2023, humanitarian partners will need $1.7 bn to respond to the needs of 6.8 million people. Given the lack of resources, humanitarian workers must make difficult choices every day in prioritizing only those with the most acute needs. Such decision-making is heartbreaking given the depth of vulnerability and needs.

Your Holiness, since my arrival in South Sudan at the beginning of 2022, I have travelled across the country and witnessed firsthand people’s suffering. I have visited sites for the displaced and people impacted by floods and conflict. I have had heart-to-heart conversations with women, youth, and community leaders. I have seen children who live in heartbreaking conditions. I have looked into the eyes of their mothers and witnessed the pain they feel for the plight of their children. Despite all of this, they have greeted me with kindness, smiles, and expressions of hope.

During my visits, women have highlighted their experiences of gender-based violence, chronic health issues, and the lack of education. They plead for the return of peace and opportunities for their children. Your Holiness, I can attest, it is the women, the children, the elderly, and people with disabilities who suffer the most.

Beyond their painful stories, I see opportunities for us to support the affected communities in achieving their potential. The need for peace is a consistent plea among all the people I meet.  Whether it is women’s groups in Wau, working on community cohesion and agriculture, or displaced men and women in Bentiu or Malakal, the call for peace is overwhelming.

If the women of South Sudan are given an opportunity to develop, to have space to be productive, South Sudan will be transformed. Women are the key to transformation, and they can lead their communities towards a better future.

Only when there is peace, will children be able to reach their full potential and will people be able to live a life of dignity, joined in coexistence and commonality while celebrating differences.

We also need respect for humanitarian principles and International Humanitarian Law. Humanitarian workers are working around the clock to respond to the urgent needs of the affected communities. However, security challenges often force staff members to relocate and activities to pause until after the situation has improved. South Sudan continues to be the most dangerous place for aid workers, followed by Afghanistan and Syria.

In 2022, over 390 incidents against humanitarian workers were reported.  Nine (9) humanitarian workers lost their lives in the line of duty. I call on all stakeholders to respect International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law and ensure safe and unhindered access for humanitarian workers to the affected people.

Despite the challenges we face, we will continue to deepen our efforts with our partners across the humanitarian, peace, and development spectrum, to support the people of South Sudan on their path to prosperity and peace. We will also continue to work closely with the Government of South Sudan to enhance our joint efforts to positively impact people’s lives.

This is not only our job, but also our purpose. We are here to serve the people of South Sudan, conscious of our limitations but aware of the opportunities.

Your Holiness, you represent a symbol of hope for millions of people across the globe and you bring with you a message of peace to South Sudan. Through your visit, my hope is renewed. If we all work together, the people of South Sudan can achieve peace and realize the potential of this incredible country.

I thank you.

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