The head of the United Nations peacekeeping operation in South Sudan, Ellen Margrethe Løj, has informed Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that she will be stepping down at the end of November after more than two years of leading the mission.
Ms. Løj was appointed by the Secretary-General as his Special Representative and head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in July 2014 and assumed her duties in Juba in September 2014.
“Although the road ahead will be challenging, I remain hopeful that peace will prevail and that this young nation will finally live out its great promise. I look forward to the day where the girls and boys of South Sudan will never know the trauma of war again and will be able to actualize their full potential,” Ms. Løj said in a statement released today by the Mission.
According to the statement, she had planned to retire at the end of her current contract, which expired at the end of August this year, but chose to remain at the helm of the Mission in the wake of the July crisis until the situation could stabilize.
Ms. Løj has also stated that it has been an honor for her to serve as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in South Sudan for over two years and will continue to advocate for a bright future for the people of South Sudan, the statement said.
In New York, Mr. Ban’s spokesman, Stéphane Dujarric, told reporters on Friday that “the Secretary-General is deeply appreciative of her lifetime of service to further the cause of peace and development, especially during her distinguished career with UN Peacekeeping having headed both UNMISS and the UN Mission in Liberia.”
“He is particularly thankful to SRSG Løj for her dedication, commitment and important contributions at the helm of UNMISS during extremely challenging times,” the spokesman added.
Ms. Løj, a national of Denmark, also headed the UN Mission in Liberia from 2008 to 2012, having previously held a number of senior positions in the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including as Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, and Ambassador to Israel.