Feb 23, 2021(Nyamilepedia) — A fistfight broke-out at Juba International Airport on Monday afternoon as the Tigrayans forces, who served in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan(UNMISS), refused to board a scheduled plane to return to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Speaking to media after the fistfight, the UN spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, explained that the argument began in the airport on Monday afternoon as the Tigrayan soldiers serving with UNMISS were being forced to board an Ethiopian airplane by the South Sudanese police.
According to the UN, the fifteen members of a contingent of Ethiopian peacekeepers in South Sudan, originally from the Tigray region, refused to return to Ethiopia citing their right to seek asylum if they fear for their lives.
The soldiers were expected to return home as part of the normal rotation of UNMISS Soldiers but they refused as saying they fear for their lives.
“This morning, 169 members of the Ethiopian contingent were due to rotate out of Juba and (be) replaced by fresh contingents, a part of a normal rotation,” said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric during his daily press conference.
“We’re trying to get the details, but I do understand about 15 members of the contingent chose not to board the flight at the Juba airport… They’ve asked to stay,” he said, adding that “any person in need of international protection has the right to seek asylum.”
The UN spokesperson further said that the fifteen were receiving support from the Ministry of Refugee Affairs.
“They are receiving support from the South Sudanese Ministry of Refugee Affairs,” Dujarric continued, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is “aware” of the situation and in contact with South Sudanese authorities.
The UNHCR defends the principle of “non-refoulement,” or allowing refugees or people seeking asylum not to return to their country of origin “if they feel their lives or freedom could be threatened,” Dujarric said.