April 19, 2014(Nyamilepedia) — The government of South Sudan reinforced its loyal forces in Bor town on Friday, which came in less than 24 hours after the UN peacekeeping mission reinforced their forces in the town. Tobby Lanzer, the UN assistant secretary general in South Sudan, was “deeply saddened and frustrated” by “unproved attack” which he believes is cowardice and abominable.
Mr. Lanzer has reaffirmed that “we will use force if at all necessary to protect people”, following the indiscriminate shooting by “well armed” assailants who guise as “peaceful demonstrators” to force their way into the UNMISS compound with intent to kill the unarmed Nuer population.
The latest official reports confirm that 146 IDPs were instantly killed while over 270 were wounded. Two UN peacekeepers were killed by the gunmen as they were outnumbered by the heavily armed “mob”.
The fading relationships between the government of South Sudan and the United Nations has been termed with suspicions and harassment. The government of South Sudan has accused the United Nations and the U.S of supporting the rebels and running ” a parallel government” in the country.
UNMISS has been accused of supplying the rebels with weapons, ammunition and vehicles, a report that the UN denies after investigations.
“The high level investigation team from New York has confirmed … there was no evidence of any intention of support by individuals of UNMISS to the opposition forces,” Hilde Johnson said. “We appreciate that the government, as a result of their own review, yesterday released the cargo, including arms and ammunition to UNMISS.” She continued.
Despite the cooperation shown by the United Nations, the bilateral relations have hardly normalized since December. Hilde Johnson reiterated on April 03 that the relationships between the UN body and Juba were far from normal.
“Although significantly improved, we have yet to see normal relations between the government and the United Nations,” she said. “We are also far from a sustainable solution for people seeking protection in the UN compounds.” Hilde Johnson continued.
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.
“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 sites unless cash was paid for each truck”.
These enforcements have been marked by violence, conducted by the SPLA forces loyal to the government. In some occasions, drivers were beaten or force not to deliver food or water.
“The driver and his assistant were instructed to offload the medical equipment and were beaten by SPLA soldiers when they refused to do so.” the cable leak report confirms
Other non-governmental organizations such as OCHA also reports an “increased levels of harassment and irregular fees and taxes,”
After several Anti-UN demonstrations in Juba, Wau and other major cities, organized by “civilians”, the bilateral relations have reached a point of zero tolerance, leading to the late unprovoked attacks on the UN base in Bor and Unity state by armed “peaceful demonstrators.”
However, the UN and her partners have responded strongly, condemning the massacre as a “war crime” and threatens to use force against any party that threatens the unarmed civilians under the protection of UN.
UN Base reinforcement
Mr Lanzer, the UN assistant secretary general in South Sudan, said that the UN had reinforced the base on Thursday to step up the security.
“We have further reinforced our base and we will send very clear signals to anybody who wishes to approach us with any intent of wrongdoing,” Mr. Lanzer warns.
“We’ve got clear rules of engagement and we will use force if at all necessary to protect people whose sole purpose for being inside our base is to stay alive.” Mr. Lanzer reiterated.
Mr. Lanzer’s call was well received by the United States, who promptly condemned the assault and further calls for the perpetrators to be held accountable.
“The United States strongly condemns the attack on the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) compound in Bor today by armed individuals that resulted in dozens of civilian casualties. We reiterate our call upon the Government of South Sudan to end the violence and to fulfill its primary responsibility to maintain law and order and provide full support for the UNMISS mission to protect civilians.” Marie Harf, Deputy Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson.
“This latest outrage against the people of South Sudan is an affront to the international community and violates fundamental principles of civilian protection. All parties should regard UNMISS sites as inviolable, and should afford protection to citizens sheltering at those locations. The United States will work with our international partners to establish who was responsible for – or complicit in – this horrific attack and seek to bring the perpetrators to justice. We reaffirm our steadfast support for UNMISS and applaud its personnel who, under tremendously challenging conditions, continue to try to protect civilians and facilitate humanitarian assistance across South Sudan . We urge those countries that have committed additional forces for UNMISS to work with the United Nations to accelerate their deployment.” said the Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
The United Nations Secretary General Ban ki Moon said “Any attack on United Nations Peacekeepers is unacceptable and constitutes a war crime.”
The U.N. has a strict policy banning civilians from carrying weapons into its compounds or bases. In January, a South Sudanese government minister, Micheal Makuei Lueth, was barred entry to the UNMISS compound in Bor because his bodyguards were armed. Makuei responded aggressively demanding an apology from the UN, and continuing to believes that the IDPs are rebels and armed.
The government of South Sudan has reinforced their troops in Bor on Friday to strengthen their position. The SPLA forces in Bor town, however, did not make any attempt to intervene or stop the assailants advancing towards the UNMISS camp.
Although the government is losing the oil rich states of Unity and Upper Nile to the insurgents, it is not clear what promoted Juba to quickly deploys more troops to the town of Bor.
Ateny Wek, the pres secretary , believes that the government troops are deployed to protect civilians, under the custody of the United Nation.
“The army has come in now. They have been ordered to protect UNMISS so there will be no attack from anybody,” Ateny Wek Ateny, President Salva Kiir’s spokesman, told Reuters news agency by phone.
Contrary, however, Ateny Wek and Makuei Lueth blame the attack on the victims’ negligence to celebrate rebels’ victories in a government controlled area.
“Those internally displaced people in Bor from the Nuer community were celebrating the capture of Bentiu by the rebels and this angered the local community,” Ateny justifies the cause of the attack.
The government has not condemned the attack, instead officials like Makuei Lueth reiterated that “we cannot continue to accommodate rebels inside UNMISS compounds”. This prompted the leader of the armed opposition, Dr. Riek Machar, to condemn the Juba government for the attack, accusing the government troops of dressing in civilian clothes in disguise.
“We condemn in the strongest terms the killing of innocent IDPs sheltered in Bor by the government forces dressed as civilians in disguise.” Machar said.
Fighting has escalated to Mayom in Unity state, Tonj in Warrap state, Renk in Upper Nile state, Gadiang in Jonglei state and Torit in Eastern Eastern Equatoria within the last four days. These strategic towns have been under government control, however, they remain significant to control Juba and oil fields.