Focus on South Sudan: “inaction, abandonment of post and refusal to engage”

Photo: Al Jazeera

South Sudan violence leads 60,000 to flee, U.N. says (CNN, 3 August 2016)

“Violence in South Sudan over the past three weeks has prompted a massive flight of refugees into neighboring countries, according to the United Nations.

More than 60,000 people, most of whom are women and children, have fled the country since fighting began at the end of June, the U.N.’s refugee agency UNHCR reported on Tuesday.

“The refugees have brought to us very disturbing reports,” UNHCR Spokesman Melissa Fleming said at a briefing in Geneva. Armed groups “are looting villages, murdering civilians, and forcibly recruiting young men and boys into their ranks,” Fleming said. “We are very concerned, and are appealing for parties to move back to the peace agreement.””

 

South Sudan to get new international peacekeeping force (BBC, 6 August 2016)

“South Sudan’s government has agreed to let in a new international protection force to try to save a peace deal. Ethnic clashes last month left at least 300 people dead and threatened to revive a civil war that has killed tens of thousands. A 12,000-strong UN mission in South Sudan was unable to prevent attacks.

The announcement was made by the East African regional body, Igad, and confirmed by South Sudan cabinet minister Dr Martin Elia Lomuro. President Salva Kiir had previously dismissed the idea of an additional force.”

 

South Sudan Situation: Regional Emergency Update #3 (25 – 31 July 2016) (UNHCR, 31 July 2016)

  • “The political and security situation inside South Sudan remains fragile and unpredictable. UNHCR continues to provide assistance in Juba as the situation allows, and other areas of operation remain functional.
  • In Uganda, a total of 53,531 South Sudanese refugees have arrived in July, more than the total arrivals in the first six months of 2016. Some 65% of the arrivals are children, and 88% are women and children. The daily rate of arrival has decreased slightly, but continues to number in the thousands.
  • South Sudanese refugees continue to seek asylum in other countries: In Sudan, over 9,000 South Sudanese refugees have arrived in July, an increase on May and June arrivals, but lower than the monthly arrivals reported in the first quarter of 2016. DRC received an influx of 1,653 new arrivals in mid-July. The number of arrivals to Kenya has increased in the past week, though is still low compared to the influx in Uganda”

 

South Sudan: Food Insecurity – 2015-2016 (ReliefWeb, repository)

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“South Sudan is facing unprecedented levels of food insecurity, as 2.8 million people — nearly 25 percent of the country’s population — remain in urgent need of food assistance, and at least 40,000 people are on the brink of catastrophe, three UN agencies warned today. (WFP, FAO, UNICEF, 8 Jan 2016)

Civil strife and unfavourable rains have further reduced crop production in South Sudan, contributing to a cereal deficit of 381,000 tonnes — 53 percent greater than in 2015 — and aggravating the already severe food shortages, two UN agencies warned today…The crisis in South Sudan is marked by alarming levels of hunger. Some 5.8 million people, or nearly half of the country’s population, are unsure where their next meal will come from, while the rate of severe food insecurity has now reached 12 percent, double the rate of one year ago. (FAO, WFP, 5 Apr 2016)”

 

Peacekeepers made major errors that contributed to South Sudan massacre, U.N. report finds (Washington Post, 6 Aug 2016)

“On Feb. 17, fighting broke out within the U.N. Protection of Civilians Site in the city of Malakal, first between young men from rival ethnic groups who had managed to smuggle guns through holes in the fence. Then the violence escalated after heavily armed government forces entered the camp.

A summary of the United Nation’s “board of inquiry report,” released Friday, said the organization and its peacekeepers failed through a “combination of inaction, abandonment of post and refusal to engage.”

In other words, some peacekeepers, whose most prominent mandate is to protect civilians, simply ran away once they were tested, abandoning sentry posts. Other peacekeepers demanded written permission to use their weapons, even though their U.N. mandate clearly gives them that authority.”

 

‘Where will we run this time?’ South Sudanese civilians living in a displacement camp fear U.N. peacekeepers can’t protect them from a massacre (Washington Post, 6 August 2016)

“In February, fighters carrying AK-47s and grenade launchers broke into the Malakal camp. As many as 50 people were fatally shot, burned alive in their tents or crushed by panicking crowds while U.N. peacekeepers fled their posts. Even the United Nations acknowledged its troops’ failure.

For civilians in the camp, it was like trying to escape from a prison set aflame, the barbed-wire fences penning in wailing mothers and children with swarms of gunmen.

Mayik eventually managed to flee through a large metal barrier, known as Charlie Gate, into the U.N. staff compound next door, which was protected by additional layers of razor wire.”

 

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Photo: Washington Post

 

South Sudan’s government forces committed widespread violations in July fighting (UN, 4 August 2016)

“He said that information received by UN human rights officers suggests hundreds of fighters and civilians were killed during the initial fighting. While some civilians were killed in crossfire between the fighting forces, others were reportedly summarily executed by Government (SPLA) soldiers, who appear to have specifically targeted people of Nuer origin.

In two separate incidents on 11 July, SPLA soldiers reportedly arrested eight Nuer civilians during house-to-house searches in Juba’s Munuki area and took them to two nearby hotels, where they shot four of them. On the same day, SPLA soldiers broke into another hotel where they shot and killed a Nuer journalist.

At least 73 civilian deaths have been catalogued so far by the UN, but it is believed the civilian death toll may turn out to be much higher. The UN was denied access to some of the hardest-hit areas in the days following the conflict and a number of restrictions on movement remain in place.”

 

South Sudan: UN radio reporter held incommunicado for nearly two years (Reporters Without Borders, 3 August 2016)

“A reporter for Radio Miraya, a radio station operated by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), George Livio is being held incommunicado at the Juba headquarters of South Sudan’s intelligence agency. He has not been formally charged and has not been able to see a lawyer or relatives since his arrest. Only UNMISS representatives have been able to visit him.

RSF points out that, by holding Livio incommunicado and arbitrarily, the authorities are violating article 64 of South Sudan’s code of criminal procedure, which says: “A person arrested by the police as part of an investigation, may be held in detention, for a period not exceeding twenty-four hours for the purposes of investigation.””

 

South Sudan: UN reports campaign of killing and rape (Al Jazeera, March 2016)

“Children and the disabled in South Sudan have been burned alive and pro-government militia allowed to rape women as a form of payment, a new UN report has said.

The investigation accused all sides in the country’s civil war of targeting civilians for murder and rape but said the army and government-allied forces were most to blame for what it described as “one of the most horrendous human rights situations in the world”.

“The report contains harrowing accounts of civilians suspected of supporting the opposition, including children and the disabled, killed by being burned alive, suffocated in containers, shot, hanged from trees or cut to pieces,” the UN human rights office said in a statement on Friday.”

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Civilians taking shelter at the UN compound. Photo: UN
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