By Sherwin Bryce-Pease, New York,
July 16, 2016(Nyamilepedia) —– The United Nations (UN) has shared highly disturbing reports that its staff along with NGO colleagues, their premises and assets in Juba,South Sudan, have become targets of SPLA troops aligned to President Salva Kiir.
The Secretary General’s Spokesperson also indicated that the UN Mission and the organisation’s agencies, funds and programmes are preparing to temporarily relocate non-critical staff from Juba over safety concerns.
With reports that First Vice President Riek Machar and his troops having withdrawn to outside the capital, questions have been raised as to whether the Transitional Government of National Unity remains viable.
Calm but tense is how the UN describes the situation in Juba and while peacekeepers have resumed limited patrols to secure protection of civilian sites, alarming reports that UN staff have themselves become targets.
UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric says, “The mission has further received highly disturbing reports targeting of UN and international NGO personnel, premises and assets in Juba, allegedly by SPLA soldiers during the fighting that erupted during the last few days.
The report includes allegations of a killing of at least one South Sudanese national working for an international NGO as well as rapes, including of an international NGO staff. UN staff members have also been assaulted. We call on national authorities to investigate the serious allegations immediately and thoroughly and bring the perpetrators to justice.”
Fighting erupted a week ago between rival factions of the SPLA, forcing both President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Riek Machar to order a ceasefire that has largely held, but not before displacing 42 000 people and killing close to 300.
I don’t know if I’m gonna make a ruling on that one
UN officials have warned South Sudan’s leaders that attacks against UN staff, its premises and assets could constitute war crimes.
“The mission is also looking into these incidents including its own response. Our humanitarian colleagues also report that three days into the tenuous ceasefire in Juba, many people have begun to return to their homes. However, thousands remain displaced, including at the UNMISS Tomping base, the UN House and the WFP compound. Relative calm has provided a window of opportunity for humanitarian organisations to respond.”
UN peacekeepers have been deployed to the country since independence five years ago.
Dujarric would not be drawn on whether the transitional government had already collapsed.
“I don’t know if I’m going to make a ruling on that one. What is clear is that agreements were signed by both the President and the Vice-President. Those agreements we hope can still be implemented. What we have seen over the last few days is again a squandering of another opportunity to bring peace back to the country especially back to Juba. Over the last few days we’ve seen again, death and destruction and the SG’s message continues to be the same. Leaders need to put the needs of their people first and foremost.”
Two UN peacekeepers have been killed in the fighting with several injured prompting calls for an arms embargo, targeted sanctions and reinforcements for the UN mission to be sent in, matters the Security Council is currently considering.
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