CableA Sudanese People’s Liberation Army soldier stands guard as a United Nations Security Council delegation arrives at Juba’s airport. File photo: AFP
March 19, 2014 (New York) — A confidential report obtained by the Washington Post Company alleges that the South Sudanese army (SPLA) ordered forces to extort and harass vehicles bringing critical supplies to civilians under UN protection.
The confidential internal report by the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations was obtained by Foreign Policy, a news website owned by the Washington Post, one of the main national newspapers in the United States.
The news organization ran the story under the headline ‘South Sudanese military targets United Nations,’ referring also to incitement of the public and the security forces at government-organized rallies.
The leaked report compiles a list of attacks and harassment against UN personnel in South Sudan. Among them is an incident in which security forces tried to block delivery of water supplies to Nuer civilians living inside the ‘Protection of Civilians’ site in Bor.
“On 21 February, South Sudanese police stopped employees from a UN aid agency that were transporting water to a camp for displaced people in the town of Bor,” reports Foreign Policy, adding that the police were acting under instructions of the SPLA to not allow any truck delivering food or water to proceed to the protection site unless cash was paid for each truck.
In a similar 11 March incident, SPLA soldiers stopped a UN relief truck carrying emergency reproductive health kits, the report stated. “The driver and his assistant were instructed to offload the medical equipment and were beaten by SPLA soldiers when they refused to do so.”
On the same day, one day after a rally in the national capital against the UN, SPLA soldiers accosted the driver of a vehicle delivering humanitarian goods from the town of Rumbek in Lakes to Yambio in Western Equatoria.
“The driver was beaten, made to offload the cargo and forced to pay the soldiers money,” according to the UN report.
The paper found that between 9 Feburary and 12 March the South Sudanese government had committed ‘dozens’ of violations of the Status of Forces agreement that provides immunity for UN personnel, and also ‘routinely’ stopped convoys of food and medicines and in many cases beaten the truck drivers.
Two other examples involved a UN demining specialist beaten and robbed at an SPLA checkpoint in Yei and an incident in which a local UN employee was threatened with arrest if he refused to spy on his employer.