South Sudan fragile states index

Inter Press Service

South Sudan Again Tops Fragile States Index

South Sudanese Police Cadets taking oath during their graduation ceremony at the Juba Football Stadium. September 17, 2012. Credit: UN Photo/Isaac Billy Gideon Lu'b

South Sudanese Police Cadets taking oath during their graduation ceremony at the Juba Football Stadium. September 17, 2012. Credit: UN Photo/Isaac Billy Gideon Lu’b

SAINT JOHN, New Brunswick, Canada, Jun 18 2015 (IPS) – For the second year in a row, South Sudan has been designated as the most fragile nation in the world, plagued by intensifying internal conflict that has displaced more than two million of its people.

Headline-making events of the past year have spurred much of the movement of countries’ rankings – for better or worse – in the Fragile States Index (FSI), a joint annual report by Foreign Policy magazine and think-tank Fund for Peace (FFP) released on Jun. 17.

“For me, Nigeria was one of the most interesting stories of the year. All indicators showed intensive pressures on all fronts…and yet people were able to really rally at the local, national level.” — Nate Haken

Sub-Saharan Africa found itself leading the pack, with seven out of the top 10 countries ranked as the most fragile. As far as regional trends go, the Islamic State’s encroaching influence pulled states such as Yemen, Libya, Syria and Iraq into the top 10 most-worsened countries of 2015.

Cuba stood out as the most-improved country this past decade, owing its designation to the thawing of relations with the United States and the gradual opening of its economy to foreign investment. Though trends suggest the nation is on track to improving conditions, there remains the challenge of access to public services and upholding human rights.

In an effort to measure a state’s fragility, the index accounts for event-driven factors and makes use of data to illuminate patterns and trends that could contribute to instability. The report analysed the progress of 178 countries around the world.

“At the top of the index, countries do tend to move minimally, but at the centre of the index, you tend to see a lot more movement,” said Nate Haken, senior associate of FFP. “That’s partly because fragility begets fragility and stability begets stability.”

And yet, the report highlighted, there are outliers like Nigeria that defy easy categorisation even as pressures on all fronts – political, social, economic – would indicate a country on the brink of descending into conflict.

“For me, Nigeria was one of the most interesting stories of the year. All indicators showed intensive pressures on all fronts,” Haken told IPS. “Oil prices were down, there was more killing this past year.”

But in an unexpected turn, Haken noted, the political opposition led by Muhammadu Buhari emerged as a credible threat to incumbent Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party. He added that many expected a polarising outcome that would pit the north and south against each other, whatever the outcome.

“I think most observers looking at these trends thought this was bound to be a disaster,” said Haken. “Every empirical measure shows a high degree of risk and yet, people were able to really rally at the local, national level.”

Meanwhile, Portugal and Georgia joined the ranks of Cuba for the most improved, with strides being made in the economy.

Whereas some countries’ progress or decline has held steady, a closer look can reveal an emerging narrative, said Haken. The United States’ year-over-year score (ranked at 89) has remained flat, but group grievances – tensions among groups – has been increasing since 2007, with respect to the immigration of children fleeing Central America and protest against the police over racial relations.

Far from being a predictive tool, the index functions as a diagnostic tool for policy makers working in human rights and economic development to identify high-priority areas, he noted. As well, it serves to turn the spotlight on countries that seemingly have marginal bearing for the international community.

In the case of the Ebola crisis in West Africa, countries like Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone may not have figured large in headlines, but the “ripple effects across the region” also had far-reaching consequences for the international community as the world scrambled to contain the outbreak, Haken noted.

Demographic pressures – massive rural-urban migration – coupled with lack of proper road infrastructure gave way to the spread of Ebola.

“One thing that came out of the index is how critical infrastructure is for sustainable human security,” he said. “… Once it began to spread, it was difficult for medical personnel and supplies to reach the rural areas.”

This regional crisis, in particular, served as a reminder that “post-conflict” nations “on path to recovery” still face vulnerabilities, the report noted.

The index relies on 12 indicators (plus other variables) to make its assessment. They account for state legitimacy; demographic pressures; economic performance; intervention of state or non-state actors; provision of public services; and population flight, among others. Each indicator is given equal weight, and countries take a numerical score, with one for the best performance and 10 for the worst.

On this basis, policy makers are encouraged to use the index to frame research questions and to help determine the allocation of humanitarian aid.

Since 2014, FSI moved away from the use of the term “failed” in favour of “fragile,” as a way of acknowledging that in some instances, the pressures a state faces can be beyond its control, said Haken.

For instance, he cited refugee crises in which governments – ill-equipped or not – take on a large number of refugees.

“Failure connotes culpability somewhere, whereas that’s not what this index was ever trying to do,” he said. “It was looking at factors – some of which governments have influence over, some of which they don’t.”

Edited by Kitty Stapp

 

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The South African Civil Society Information Service

South African democracy spans two very different worlds. In one, people complain loudly but enjoy full democratic rights – in the other, most remain unheard and battle for the right to speak. In both, life is difficult for those who do not conform.

Among political scientists – and many of the South Africans who can speak – it is fashionable to label this country’s democracy a ‘party dominant system’. Democracy, is, in this view, limited by the iron grip of the African National Congress, which is said to dominate the political order because it wins repeated national elections. But this fails to explain why the governing party has almost no impact on some of the most important places in the country – those where the holders of economic and social power live.

In the townships and shack settlements, the ANC may dominate although even there the reality is more complicated. But in the suburbs, it is hardly noticeable as a force in society or a factor in elections. The dominant party there is the Democratic Alliance although, as in the townships, the deeper reality is that particular interests dominate. In the townships, force may be used to get people to conform. In the suburbs, it is not needed – people fit in voluntarily.

South African democracy is, therefore, built on at least two worlds – one dominated by the well-resourced and their favoured party, the other in which the ANC and local power holders who attach themselves to it hold sway. In one, residents speak and act as full democratic citizens – in the other, they may face violence if they do. The parallels with the pre-1994 period are clear: then too the suburbs were places where people could be heard, the townships places where force was used to impose silence. The pattern of the past continues, in a new form.

None of this means that democracy is meaningless. Political freedom has enabled most South Africans to reclaim their dignity. It has placed a lever in citizens’ hands which can be used to send political power holders a message, as voters did in Marikana and Nkandla when they voted against the ANC, and to change lives: 3 million people living with HIV and AIDS are alive today because the politics which democracy allows enabled activists to win effective treatment at public expense.

But it does mean that democracy is not yet able to change the social power inherited from the past which limits its reach in both suburbs and townships.

In the townships, the ANC – despite the challenge of rival parties – continues to dominate elections. More importantly, public life in the areas where most citizens live is restricted by ANC functionaries or local power holders who use the governing party when it is convenient. They often use force, at times in concert with local police, to silence those who challenge their monopoly. The shooting of Andries Tatane is well known – other examples largely ignored by the media include the violence unleashed against the shack dweller members of Abahlali basemjondolo or the murder of union officials. But these are only extreme examples of the cost of challenging local power.

Even if this constraint did not exist, many in these areas would find it difficult to make themselves heard, for the power balance is stacked against them: they often lack the resources and connections which the middle class use to make themselves heard. Local power holders impose an added barrier to realising democracy’s promise.

Voters in these areas are not forced to vote for the ANC – when they want to ditch it, they do. But most find it difficult to make themselves heard in the crucial period between elections.

Ironically, in the suburbs, where no-one forces anyone to obey, the dominance of one party and one view of the world is far tighter than in townships. On the surface, voting trends are similar: in Johannesburg’s last local election, both the ANC and DA won 80%-90% of the vote in their strongholds.  But the DA areas also house domestic workers, most of whom do not vote DA: so the official opposition is probably winning more than 95% of the vote among those who own or rent property in their areas.

Uniformity of thought in the suburbs is also more pronounced, as a glance at mainstream media shows: there is consensus that all ills are caused by the governing party; politicians and government are all-powerful while corporations and professionals are powerless; and that townships and shack settlements are of interest only when they disturb suburbanites by protesting. Those who challenge the first two are silenced by ridicule rather than force. Ironically, the suburban elites who impose this groupthink routinely berate township dwellers for ‘unthinkingly’ choosing the wrong party.

Suburban dominance is powerful because it succeeds in presenting its world as everyone’s world. So powerful that those who claim to challenge it – social justice activists and organisations – repeat many of the assumptions of the suburbs even as they claim to oppose them. There are many examples but one will suffice.  A sure path to denunciation by activists is to suggest that it is fair to fund Gauteng motorways by tolling those who can afford to own vehicles while exempting those who don’t: and so ‘radical’ activism embraces the interests of suburban car owners. A look at social media – often regarded as the forum in which all citizens speak although at the very most they are used by one in five people – shows how the suburban view dominates even among many who claim to be on the left.

What might change these patterns? One important start would be a social justice activism which recognises how deeply trapped in the suburbs it still is and commits itself to breaking out. That could begin a challenge to the social and economic patterns which restrict democracy here – one which would recognise that our problem is not that democracy has failed, but that it has not yet been fully tried. We need the freedoms won in 1994. But we need to ensure that they are available to all.

Friedman is the Director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy at Rhodes University and the University of Johannesburg.

Africa elephant poaching – Tanzania/Mozambique and Gabon-Congo at centre of trade

BBC

Elephant poaching hotspots identified

Elephant
African elephants have an estimated population of half a million

Most illegally-poached African elephant ivory can be traced back to just two areas of Africa, research shows.

Scientists were able to locate the hotspots by matching the DNA fingerprint of seized ivory to DNA profiles from the dung of elephants living throughout the continent.

Around 50,000 elephants are thought to be poached each year.

The worst area for poaching was identified as Tanzania and nearby parts of Mozambique.

The Tridom, which spans parts of Gabon, the Republic of Congo and Cameroon, was also highlighted.

The researchers say the data, published in Science, may increase international pressure to stop the killing.

This week, the US government hopes to send out a message against the illicit sale of elephant ivory by destroying one tonne of elephant ivory in New York’s Times Square.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) banned the international trade in ivory in 1989, but a black market trade continues to thrive.

Ivory is used for trinkets, souvenirs and also in traditional medicines.

With an estimated population of less than half a million, the ongoing African poaching problem is rapidly driving the animal towards extinction.

International efforts to try to stop the ivory pipeline focus on points of sale and tightening up controls at potential shipping routes.

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Elephants live in social groups

But, Dr Samuel Wasser, a conservation biologist from the University of Washington and lead researcher on the Science paper, thinks other measures might be more effective.

“The source populations are where it all starts, and to be able to focus on the source populations, especially the major source populations, is very very effective at trying to target these killings,” Dr Wasser told the BBC’s Science in Action programme.

Genetic Analysis

In an effort to identify where illegal ivory was originating from, Dr Wasser and his team turned to genetic analysis.

Elephants live in social groups, or herds. Animals living in one location are more genetically related to one another than they are to animals living elsewhere.

So, by analysing the DNA sequence – particularly those stretches that reveal relatedness – from animals living across Africa, the researchers could build a geographical map of elephant genetic diversity.

Elephants are large, wary and not easy to sample directly, but their dung provides an abundant source of the essential elephant blueprint; that tell-tale DNA. An analysis of dung samples from 1,500 individuals, each from a separate family group and living in different locations across Africa, resulted in a detailed DNA geographical map.

As Dr Wasser explained, this allows them to pinpoint the source of illegal ivory: “We are very accurate.

“Most importantly, areas are further apart than 300km so that, combined with knowing the natural history of the area – what parks are there and where the elephants live – it means you can get it to the precise park.”

Essential groundwork done, they were poised to analyse ivory to pinpoint its source, and there was no shortage of material to analyse.

Geographical map

The team focussed on 28 seizures made between 1996 and 2014.

“We analyse large animal seizures that are over half a tonne in weight, and that’s important because these large seizures represent about 70% of all ivory smuggled,” Dr Wasser said.

“They reflect the involvement of large transnational organised crime syndicates.”

A comparison of the DNA fingerprints in the seized ivory to their geographical map of elephant DNA enabled them to pinpoint the sites of this mass animal slaughter.

The results were astonishing.

Virtually all of the large seizures from the last decade that were analysed came from just two poaching hotspots.

African elephants are divided into two sub-species: the forest elephant and the Savannah elephant.

The majority of forest elephant deaths had occurred in or close to the protected area known as the Tridom, including parts of Gabon, the Republic of Congo and Cameroon. Some deaths were also occurring in the adjacent Dzanga Sangha Reserve in the Central African Republic.

Savannah elephant slaughter was focussed in Tanzania, with spill-over into Mozambique. This was the biggest poaching hotspot of all.

Dr Wasser hopes that the weight of evidence will force the international community to put pressure on these countries to “clean up their act” and to be made more accountable by government aid agencies and private donors.

South Africa – how Zuma plotted Bashir’s escape

Mail and Guardian

Only President Jacob Zuma and key ministers were aware of the plot to get the Sudanese president out of the country.

The Waterkloof Air Force Base from which President Omar al-Bashir left on flight Sudan01, a sure sign that it was known the president was on board. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

President Jacob Zuma and his key security ministers plotted to ensure Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s safe passage out of South Africa, flouting a court order and international convention, the Mail & Guardian has learnt. The ANC described it as choosing African unity over the law.

Zuma had earlier promised al-Bashir that South Africa would not execute a warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes. On the eve of the African Union summit, Zuma’s government quietly gazetted a clause that guaranteed immunity for all delegates.

Plans to get al-Bashir out of the country were a closely guarded secret, with officials feigning ignorance of his whereabouts.

The high court had ordered him to stay in South Africa pending the court making a final decision on whether to arrest him based on an ICC warrant.

No government minister, including the minister in the presidency and Zuma’s flak-catcher, Jeff Radebe, and International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, would speak to the media about al-Bashir.

But the M&G understands that the plan to allow al-Bashir to evade justice was hatched between Zuma and four ministers whose portfolios were crucial to facilitating his departure. Other Cabinet ministers were apparently not briefed.

Too few knew
Government sources were still reluctant to share detailed information about how al-Bashir managed to leave the country this week because too few people had known about the plan. “If it leaks, it will be known [who made the leak],” one said.

The M&G knows the names of the ministers involved but cannot name them because it could compromise the anonymity of our source.

Al-Bashir’s official aircraft was flown from OR Tambo International Airport on Sunday evening to the Waterkloof Air Force Base, which is controlled by the South African National Defence Force. Zuma is the commander-in-chief of all armed forces.

Al-Bashir was escorted by South Africa’s VIP protection unit to Waterkloof and his plane took off just before midday.

But government representatives in court claimed the Sudanese president’s name was not on the flight plan, although the flight was codenamed Sudan01, indicating that a president was on board.

ICC charges
Al-Bashir is wanted by the ICC on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in relation to the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region, where an estimated 300 000 people have been killed and more than two million displaced.

The AU chairperson, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, told journalists at a media briefing at the end of the summit that Zuma had made an undertaking that al-Bashir would not be arrested.

“He [Zuma] said President al-Bashir would not be arrested, as he would not allow police here to arrest him,” Mugabe said.

The acting Cabinet spokesperson, Phumla Williams, said the government “will not engage in a different process in respect of President al-Bashir” because “the matter went through the court process”.

“At this stage, government is preparing to submit the investigation report as directed by the court.”

Legal crisis
The al-Bashir debacle poses a diplomatic and legal crisis for South Africa, triggering the ruling ANC to regurgitate its threat to urge the government to withdraw from the ICC.

The party wants legislators, the majority of whom are ANC, to repeal the Implementation of the Rome Statute of the ICC Act of 2002.

The party is taking the issue to its national general council, a mid-term party conference to review its programmes.

Obed Bapela, the head of the ANC’s international relations sub-committee and deputy co-operative governance minister, said his committee was formulating a discussion document on the ICC.

“It is a policy of the ANC that we remain a member of the ICC [but], given the recent events, we must review our position whether [our] membership is yielding its goals, or has the ICC been sidetracked and hijacked by forces that are anti-progress,” Bapela said.

Politics or law
He added that, regarding al-Bashir, the government had to choose between politics and the law, and it chose politics. The unity of the continent was hanging in the balance when the Southern Africa Litigation Centre asked the court to force the government to arrest al-Bashir, he said.

“We would have been seen as lackeys of the West. We had to choose between the unity of Africa and the ICC and we chose Africa. We said we can deal with the ICC later,” he said.

The debate about the ICC, its fairness and whether South Africa should remain a part of it is not new in the ruling party. At its 2012 conference in Mangaung, the ANC expressed concern that the ICC engaged in the selective prosecution of African leaders.

“[The ANC] urges the ICC to also pursue cases of impunity elsewhere, while engaging in serious dialogue with the AU and African countries in order to review their relationship,” the party resolved.

Again, in 2013, the debate resurfaced at the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) meeting.

“It was a heated discussion,” said an NEC member, who is not allowed to speak on matters of international relations.

‘Clear evidence’
After discussing the indictment of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta by the ICC, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said the ICC appeared to view the weak as always wrong and the strong as always right.

“There is clear evidence that the ICC is used more to effect regime change in the majority of cases,” he said.

Bapela said some ANC leaders wanted South Africa to withdraw from the ICC because it was seemingly “a way by the colonisers to punish the colonised”.

“The view is that this instrument [the ICC] is no longer useful. It has been compromised. It is biased,” he said.

But other ANC leaders want the country to remain a signatory to the ICC and to campaign for its reform.

“There are those who say the ANC has an entrenched human rights culture and that cannot be compromised simply because of what is happening currently in the ICC,” Bapela said.

Approach not widely held
But an ANC NEC member, who wanted to remain anonymous, said this approach was not widely held.

Another NEC member said, although the discussion on the ICC was in abeyance, the al-Bashir controversy has reawakened the debate. ANC leaders had been having unofficial discussions about the matter since the weekend, the member said.

“The proposal to leave the ICC was done in an NEC meeting last year,” he said.

“What we also need to discuss is, if we withdraw, does that mean at no point will we want to go back and rejoin?”

The debate in the ANC is going on in parallel with the AU’s call to member states not to co-operate with the ICC.

African Court on Human and People’s Rights
Bapela said South Africa was committed to having the African Court on Human and People’s Rights to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity on the continent. The AU hoped that it would one day replace the ICC on African matters.

“Although a worrying thing is that it is under-resourced. It needs more funding,” he said.

The budget allocated for the court for 2016 is $12-million but half of that is for salaries.

The crux of the argument against the ICC is its failure to prosecute Western leaders accused of committing atrocities.

The nonmembership of countries such as the United States and Britain, as well as the protracted time it takes to prosecute those arrested by the Netherlands-based court, are other sticky issues.

‘So much wrong’
“There is so much wrong happening in the ICC. It is not designed for dealing with African countries,” Bapela said.

“And there is an issue with funding – 66% of its money comes from the EU [European Union].”

Although al-Bashir’s presence in the country caused mixed feelings, the requirement to arrest him did not come as a surprise to the government and the timing of events suggests it tried – and failed – to shield him.

On May 28, two weeks before al-Bashir landed in South Africa, the ICC formally reminded South Africa of its obligation to arrest the Sudanese president. It did so though a diplomatic memo, known as a note verbale, addressed to the South African embassy in The Hague, the seat of the ICC.

Six working days later, Nkoana-Mashabane gazetted a notice that AU delegates would enjoy full diplomatic immunity.

Netherlands ambassador
Ironically, considering subsequent events, the ICC’s note verbale became the responsibility of South Africa’s ambassador to the Netherlands, Bruce Koloane, to send home.

Koloane was the chief of state protocol when a planeload of wedding guests of the politically connected Gupta family landed at Waterkloof.

A government report into the scandal found that Koloane was a prime culprit in the national security breach, but found no fault on the part of Zuma, in whose name the landing was organised.

Koloane was appointed an ambassador soon after this incident.

This week, the ICC would not say whether it had scheduled another meeting with Koloane to ask how al-Bashir had managed to leave South Africa.

Pretoria’s position
But the ICC met Koloane on June 12, at his request. At that meeting, he presented Pretoria’s position: that South Africa had competing obligations on al-Bashir.

“In response to this, the representatives of South Africa were [told]

that there is no ambiguity in the law and that the Republic of South Africa is under the obligation to arrest and surrender to the court Omar al-Bashir,” the ICC said of that meeting. Neither Koloane nor his legal counsel at the embassy were available for comment.

South Africa was told as much again, in writing, on June 13, the same day al-Bashir landed in the country.

Possible consequences for South Africa are limited to being reported to the United Nations’ Security Council – which includes nonmembers of the ICC – but Pretoria is relying on its “good friends” sitting on that body to let it off the hook.

Russia and China
A diplomatic source said: “Russia and China are South Africa’s good friends. They will veto this matter.”

China is known for its policy of noninterference in the domestic affairs of other countries.

South Africa hopes that, if it withdraws from the ICC, more of the 34 African countries that are signatories will follow suit, a situation that would strengthen the African Court.

Sudan’s information attache in South Africa, Saif Ahmed, was said to be on leave in Sudan and the embassy in Pretoria was unwilling to release his phone number.

The Sudanese ambassador, Ali Yousif Ahmed Alsharif, was said by his personal assistant to be too busy to talk to the M&G.


Nigeria-Niger – Boko Haram kills 30 in attacks on Niger villages

Reuters

NIAMEY

Boko Haram militants attacked two villages in southern Niger’s Diffa region overnight, killing at least 30 civilians, two security sources said on Thursday.

It was the second major cross-border attack by the Nigerian Islamist group this week, following twin suicide bombings in Chad’s capital on Monday that killed at least 34 people.

The attackers drove into the villages in the Gueskerou area with cars and motorbikes and shot residents before setting fire to the mostly straw thatched houses where others were hiding, the sources said.

“In all, at least 30 were killed. Some of them died when the houses were set alight,” said one of the security officials. The source said he expected the death toll to rise because a number of survivors had serious burns.

Gueskerou is along the banks of the Komadugu River separating Niger from Nigeria.

Despite a regional military operation to beat back Boko Haram, southern Niger has been attacked dozens of times this year. Its government has declared a state of emergency for the region and has arrested more than 600 people it accuses of links to the group.

Chad bans Islamic face veil after suicide bombings

BBC

Woman wearing a burka
Chad’s security forces have been ordered to burn all burkas sold in markets
Chad has banned people from wearing the full-face veil, following two suicide bomb attacks on Monday.

Chad’s government accused Nigerian militant Islamist group Boko Haram of the bombings which killed more than 20 people.

The prime minister said the veil was used as a “camouflage” by militants and said the security forces will burn all full-face veils sold in markets.

Chad is to host a new regional force set up to tackle Boko Haram.

The militant group has not commented on the attack but has previously threatened to attack Chad, after its forces started to help Nigeria.

At a meeting with religious leaders, Prime Minister Kalzeube Pahimi Deubet said the ban applied everywhere, not only public places.

He added that any clothing that covers everything but the eyes was a camouflage.

The attackers were on motorcycles when they blew themselves up outside two police buildings in the capital, N’Djamena.

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A cleanup operation has been going on at the scene of the attacks

Borno state, at the heart of the insurgency, is on the Nigerian border with Chad and Chadian forces have played a key role in helping Nigeria battle the jihadist group.

The US announced on Tuesday that it will give $5m (£3.2m) towards a multi-national task force headquarters in Chad.

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The BBC World Service’s Africa editor Richard Hamilton says Boko Haram militants have increasingly been using female suicide bombers in Nigeria, as they are more likely to smuggle bombs into public places without detection.

The majority of the population in Chad is Muslim and the burka is worn mainly for religious reasons, but also helps protect women from the hot, dusty climate of the Sahara.

The full-face Islamic veil was also banned in May in public places in Congo-Brazzaville, to “counter terrorism”.

Although there has never been an Islamist attack in the country and less than 5% of the population of Congo-Brazzaville is Muslim, thousands of mostly Muslim people had fled the neighbouring Central African Republic and had taken shelter in mosques.

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UN slams South Sudan president over civilian protection

Reuters

Girls play in an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp inside the U.N. base in Malakal, in this July 24, 2014 file photo.
REUTERS/ANDREEA CAMPEANU

The United Nations slammed South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir on Wednesday for hindering efforts to protect civilians by blocking U.N. attack helicopters and surveillance drones and declaring that U.N. personnel caught taking photos will be deemed spies.

U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said the world body’s mission in South Sudan wanted to do a better job protecting civilians amid the country’s civil war. Some 136,000 civilians are currently sheltering at seven U.N. sites around the country.

“We needed attack helicopters, request denied; we needed UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), request denied by the president to me, personally, three times last year,” Ladsous told a U.N. Security Council meeting on peacekeeping operations.

The South Sudan capital city “Juba did declare some of our senior personnel persona non grata, if you look at the fact that yesterday it was announced that U.N. personnel taking pictures will be considered a spy, I think this raises a number of concerns,” he said.

Ladsous said the movements of peacekeepers had also been restricted during the 18-month conflict in the world’s newest state, which seceded from Sudan in 2011. There are some 12,000 U.N. troops and police in South Sudan.

The South Sudan mission to the United Nations was not immediately available to comment on the accusations by Ladsous.

Forces loyal to Kiir are pitted against rebels allied to former Vice President Riek Machar in a war that tends to follow ethnic lines – Kiir is an ethnic Dinka and Machar is Nuer. Several cease-fires have been agreed but broken.

The 15-member Security Council has long-threatened to blacklist anyone undermining security or interfering with the peace process in South Sudan, but has not sanctioned anyone yet.

South Sudan U.N. force commander Lieutenant-General Yohannes Gebremeskel Tesfamariam, of Ethiopia, told the Security Council that the sites where peacekeepers were protecting civilians were increasingly being targeted.

He said restrictions by the parties to the conflict “fundamentally hamper” the U.N. mission and “negate the principle that the authorities, and not we as the peacekeepers, have the primary responsibility of protecting civilians.”

“The Security Council plays an important role in holding accountable those who harm civilians, or directly obstruct our efforts to protects them,” Tesfamariam told the council.

Thousands have been killed in the violence and more than 1.5 million people have been displaced in South Sudan, while a further 500,000 have fled to neighbouring countries, the United Nations has said.

About a third of the nation’s 11 million people rely on food aid and other assistance.

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