Liberian Diplomat Meets Pope Francis

MONROVIA-The Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General / Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Juba South Sudan, Ambassador Sara Beysolow Nyanti has stressed the overwhelming need for peace in South Sudan.

Ambassador Nyanti,  A Liberian and UN Diplomat, is the only Liberian now who has reached such a high level on the International stage.

She was recognized by Pope Francis for her impactful and resilient work done over the period, especially in humanitarian and peacekeeping operations.

Sara Frances Beysolow Nyanti is an international development expert and Liberian pastor.

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 a 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 a 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 are key.

Amb. Nyanti Speaking In South Sudan When She Met With Pop Francis

“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, and 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 the 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, and 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.

South Sudan ranks fourth on the list of the world’s most neglected displacement crises. It is also the largest refugee crisis in Africa, she told Pope Francis.

Additionally, she pointed out extreme levels of food insecurity and malnutrition which affect two-thirds of the country’s population and this situation makes South Sudan one of the worst food emergencies globally, madam Nyanti re-emphasized.

She also stated that an estimated eight million people are expected to experience food insecurity, this year in 2023.

In addition to this, insecurity, fueled by inter-communal violence, crime, and impunity, continues to hamper South Sudan’s peace efforts.

According to her, Women and girls are extremely vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence, and they risk being violated while carrying out their daily routines while Children risk being abducted, recruited by local armed groups, or trafficked.

Moreover, she noted that 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, she added.

She projected that in 2023, humanitarian partners will need $1.7 bn to respond to the needs of 6.8 million people and given the lack of resources, humanitarian workers must make difficult choices every day in prioritizing only those with the most acute needs, Ambassador Nyanti added.

According to her, such decision-making is heartbreaking given the depth of vulnerability and needs.

Narrating her experience since her arrival in South Sudan in early 2022, she told the Pope she has traveled 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”, she noted.

At the same time, “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”, she added.

Moreover, she explained that during her visits, women have highlighted their experiences of gender-based violence, chronic health issues, and the lack of education.

With her immense contributions over the period in the UN Peace and Humanitarian sector especially with great impact, she has again put Liberia on the map including African women with a popular saying that once, women are educated, empowered, and supported, they can make a greater impact to help transform the globe.

Ambassador Nyanti continued role on the international stage also came at a time when President George Weah last Monday announced her Country, Liberia’s non-permanent membership to the United Nations Security Council.

Liberia will in 2025 be inducted officially on the international stage in New York and in 2026 officially take her seat as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

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