Tag Archives: South Sudan atrocities

South Sudan – government rejects additional 4,000 UN troops

Al Jazeera

More than 12,000 UN peacekeeping mission troops have been in South Sudan since it gained independence in 2011 [File: EPA]

South Sudan has announced it will no longer accept the deployment of an additional 4,000 United Nations peacekeepers, saying the security situation in the county has improved.

The regional protection force, authorised by the UN Security Council in August after renewed fighting in the capital, Juba, is meant to strengthen the 13,500-strong UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan

UN dismisses South Sudan peacekeeping force chief

“The government of South Sudan has the ability to provide security and stability for the country and for its citizens without the deployment of a … protection force,” South Sudan’s Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Mawien Makol Ariik said on Wednesday.

The government’s move is a reversal of its earlier decision in November to accept the troops’ deployment.

Defence Minister Kuol Manyang Juuk also said there was no need for the regional protection forces to be deployed in South Sudan.

“Most of the people abroad still believe that there is fighting in Juba and around the country … but Juba is now secure,” Juuk told DPA news agency.


READ MORE: South Sudan accepts 4,000 more UN peacekeepers


Juuk’s remarks contradict reports of recent fighting in the north and south of the country.

The South Sudanese government had warned in August 2016 that the deployment of more UN forces would marginalise its sovereignty, but later gave its consent amid the threat of an arms embargo.

In December, a UN human rights commission urged a rapid deployment of the additional peacekeepers amid reports of ethnic killings.

A political split between President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and his former deputy Riek Machar escalated into a military conflict in December 2013. Tens of thousands have been killed and more than two million displaced.

A unity government was formed in April, but fighting broke out again in July, sending Machar into exile.

The UN’s top human rights official has previously blamed South Sudanese government troops and rebels loyal to the president of ethnically targeted violations, including extrajudicial executions and sexual violence incidences in August 2015.

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has previously faced criticism for failing to fully protect civilians facing violence.

In early November, Ban Ki-moon, the former UN secretary-general, dismissedthe commander of the UNMISS force following a damning report that accused the peacekeepers of failing to protect civilians during the outbreak of violence in July.

The report from a UN special investigation found that a lack of leadership in the UNMISS ended in a “chaotic and ineffective response” during the heavy fighting in the capital, Juba, from July 8 to 11 that killed dozens of people.

UN warns of danger of mass atrocities in South Sudan conflict

Sudan Tribune

(JUBA) – The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned of the “risk of mass atrocities” in South Sudan, should renewed violence in the world’s youngest nation continue.

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Ban Ki-moon (Photo UN)

In a report released Wednesday, Ki-moon said the UN peacekeepers must be prepared to protect innocent civilians.

“There is a very real risk of mass atrocities being committed in South Sudan, particularly following the sharp rise in hate speech and ethnic incitement in recent weeks,” said the UN Secretary General.

“It must be clearly understood that United Nations peacekeeping operations do not have the appropriate manpower or capabilities to stop mass atrocities,” he added.

The UN recently approved the deployment of regional protection forces in the aftermath of renewed violence that broke out in the country in July between South Sudan’s two main rival factions.

An estimated 14,000 soldiers and police are deployed in the UN mission in South Sudan, but recent investigations implicated peacekeepers in the failure to protect civilians during the attack.

South Sudan descended into war in mid-December 2013, leaving tens of thousands dead and more than 2.5 million people displaced.

Meanwhile, the Security Council will discuss South Sudan on Thursday amidst earlier threats to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan.

(ST)

South Sudan –

Institute for Security Studies (Tshwane)

Why the UN’s failure in Juba will affect aid workers everywhere
18 August 2016

On 11 July at around 3pm – just as a new bout of fighting in Juba was beginning to die down – dozens of government soldiers stormed into the Terrain Hotel. The hotel is popular with expatriates and international aid workers. Over the course of the next four hours, occupants of the hotel were gang-raped, robbed and assaulted, with American citizens especially targeted.

In the context of South Sudan, such atrocities – while horrific – are nothing new. The country’s civil war has been unimaginably brutal, and gross human rights violations and war crimes have been well-documented. Even the African Union’s report into human rights violations found that both sides have been culpable of the most egregious offences, including murder, mass rape, torture and the use of child soldiers.

During the attack, panicked victims phoned and messaged whoever they could think of for help, including embassies and the nearby United Nations (UN) base, just a mile away, where thousands of well-armed peacekeepers were stationed. The peacekeepers chose not to intervene, allowing the crimes to continue.

One American who was released from the hotel approached United Nations (UN) troop-contributing countries directly. ‘Everyone refused to go. Ethiopia, China and Nepal. All refused to go,’ he told the Associated Press.

The message it sends to aid workers is that the UN will not intervene to save them
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The UN’s inaction has provoked a storm of criticism. ‘We are deeply concerned that United Nations peacekeepers were apparently either incapable of or unwilling to respond to calls for help,’ Samantha Power, the United States Ambassador to the UN, said on Monday. On Wednesday, the UN Secretary-General ordered an independent special investigation into the incident.

Unfortunately, UN inaction in South Sudan is nothing new: the UN has a track record of failing to respond to attacks on South Sudanese civilians. ‘The UN peacekeepers in South Sudan are mandated by the UN Security Council to use force when needed to protect civilians from imminent harm. The UN mission hosts nearly 200 000 displaced people on several of its bases. However, it has repeatedly failed to effectively protect civilians from armed attacks in or near its bases, underscoring wider problems in its effectiveness,’ said Human Rights Watch in June, in a statement documenting some of these failings.

But although depressingly familiar, the attack on the Terrain Hotel – and the failure of the UN to respond to it – was different to other atrocities in one key aspect. The identity of the victims underlined that aid workers are now targets in South Sudan, while the UN’s passivity shows that it is unable – or unwilling – to protect them.

This could have serious ramifications for the provision of humanitarian aid, both in South Sudan and elsewhere.

Unfortunately, UN inaction in the context of South Sudan is nothing new
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Aid workers in war zones accept a certain level of risk. It comes with the territory, after all. But an enormous amount of effort and planning goes into mitigating those risks, and UN peacekeepers play a central role in those plans.

Proximity to armed peacekeepers is supposed to confer a degree of security – it’s no coincidence that the Terrain Hotel was so close to a UN base. It was popular with aid workers for precisely that reason.

But the 11 July attack has shattered that sense of security. The message it sends to aid workers is that the UN will not intervene to save them. This, inevitably, changes the risk calculus. Many aid workers will leave South Sudan. Some NGOs will close up shop. Convincing others to take jobs in Juba, or elsewhere in the country, will become much harder – and much more expensive.

ISS Today spoke to one international development worker, who was present in Juba at the time of the Terrain Hotel attack. He said that following the incident, his family drew a ‘red line’, insisting that he does not return. And he agrees – it is simply too dangerous. Nor does he think that plans to beef up the UN contingent with 4 000 extra troops will make a difference. ‘This just gives the illusion of a real peacekeeping capability. If anything, that endangers civilians even more,’ he said.

The delivery of international aid has just become a lot more dangerous
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The humanitarian situation within South Sudan remains grave. At least five million people are at risk from food shortages, with 1.6 million internally displaced. Government services are effectively non-existent, which means that the international humanitarian community – including UN agencies – are the primary source of emergency food supplies and healthcare in the country.

Although impossible to measure, the long-term impact of a reduction in international humanitarian assistance could be catastrophic.

But the impact of the Terrain Hotel attack will be felt far beyond South Sudan’s borders too. If the UN cannot be relied upon to protect aid workers in Juba, can it be relied upon to do so anywhere else?

Across the world, the delivery of international aid and development assistance has just become a lot more dangerous. And therefore more difficult, and more expensive – and even less likely to make a difference to the people who need it the most.

Simon Allison, ISS consultant

UN to investigate South Sudan hotel attack an failures by peacekeepers

Reuters

U.N. to investigate peacekeepers’ response to South Sudan hotel attack

By Michelle Nichols | UNITED NATIONS

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched an investigation on Tuesday into accusations peacekeepers in South Sudan failed to respond properly to an attack on a Juba hotel by uniformed men who killed a journalist and raped several civilians.

Ban was “alarmed” by the initial findings of a U.N. fact-finding mission into the attack on the Hotel Terrain on July 11 during an outbreak of fighting between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and those backing former Vice President Riek Machar.

The secretary-general was “concerned about allegations that UNMISS (the U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Sudan) did not respond appropriately to prevent this and other grave cases of sexual violence committed in Juba,” Ban’s spokesman said.

Ban has launched an independent special investigation to determine the circumstances surrounding the incidents and evaluate the overall response by the U.N. peacekeeping mission, the spokesman said in a statement.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, said on Monday: “We are deeply concerned that United Nations peacekeepers were apparently either incapable of or unwilling to respond to calls for help.”

The “U.S. embassy in South Sudan responded to distress calls from the compound and urgently contacted South Sudanese government officials, who sent a response force to the site to stop the attack,” she said in a statement.

Hundreds of people were killed and the United Nations said government soldiers and security forces executed civilians and gang-raped women and girls during and after last month’s fighting. South Sudan rejected the accusations.

“The Secretary-General reiterates his outrage over the acts of violence committed by the SPLA (South Sudanese army) and opposition forces in Juba from 8 to 11 July,” said the U.N. spokesman. Ban urged the government to investigate all human rights violations and prosecute those responsible, he said..

Human Rights Watch said on Monday it had uncovered evidence of the cold-blooded execution of civilians by security forces during the fighting. It also found evidence of soldiers raping civilians.

The U.N. Security Council authorized on Friday the deployment of a 4,000-strong protection force to ensure peace in Juba as part of the U.N. mission and threatened an arms embargo if the government did not cooperate.

U.N. peacekeepers have been in the oil-producing country since it gained independence from Sudan in 2011. South Sudan descended into civil war after Kiir dismissed Machar as his deputy. They signed a peace deal in August 2015, but implementation was slow and sporadic fighting continued.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Paul Tait)

South Sudan – rival forces accuse each other of rape, killings and other atrocities

Sudan Tribune

August 15, 2016 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s rival forces killed and raped civilians, extensively looting their property, including humanitarian goods, during and after clashes that occurred in Juba last month, a New-York based rights body said.

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Arms and light weapons have been used by both warring parties in South Sudan to commit abuses (Photo courtesy of SSANSA)

In many cases, according to Human Rights Watch, government forces appeared to target non-Dinka civilians.

As a result of indiscriminate attacks, including shooting and shelling, shells landed in camps for displaced people inside United Nations bases, and in other densely populated areas in the city, killing and wounding civilians, the rights group said.

Clashes between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and the armed opposition leader, Riek Machar clashed in the capital left over 270 people dead and displaced thousands.

The rights body mainly faulted government soldiers for the multiple crimes committed on civilians in the young nation.

“A year after South Sudan’s leaders signed a peace deal, civilians are dying, women are being raped, and millions of people are afraid to go home,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch in a report issued Monday.

“On August 12, the UN decided to send more peacekeepers to Juba but put off a long-overdue arms embargo. The continued supply of arms only helps fuel the abuses on a larger scale,” he added.

The latest violence came barely four months after the formation a coalition government under a peace agreement signed in August 2015. The rival factions agreed to integrate their forces and establish the hybrid court.

Under the deal, however, the African Union Commission was to set up the court, with South Sudanese and other African judges and staff to be completed by October 2016.

This follows the series of documented cases of targeted killings, rapes and gang rapes, beatings, looting, and harassment, often along ethnic lines, said to have been committed several areas of the capital and its outskirts.

“South Sudanese leaders have time and again failed to end abuses against civilians, been unwilling to rein in abusive forces or ensure justice for crimes by those under their command,” said Bekele.

“There is no more excuse for delay: top leaders need to be sanctioned and an arms embargo imposed. The UN has to be more effective in protecting civilians and the AU should move ahead with the hybrid court,” he added.

Officials from the country’s two rival factions are yet to comment on the damning report.

Meanwhile, the rights body has appealed to the United Nations and its member countries to impose targeted sanctions, including asset freezes and travel bans, on those responsible for serious human rights abuses in South Sudan.

The African Union Commission and donors, it added, should proceed without delay with preparations for a hybrid court to investigate and try the most serious crimes committed since the start of South Sudan’s new war in 2013, including during the recent fighting.

(ST)

IGAD and AU must intervene in South Sudan

African Arguments

The African Union can and must intervene to prevent atrocities in South Sudan

The challenge facing the African Heads of State and Government as they meet in Kigali this week is not whether but how to act in South Sudan.

African peacekeepers training as part of a hybrid AU-UN operation. Credit: UN Photo/Albert Gonzalez Farran

When the security arrangements of South Sudan’s fragile peace agreement collapsed last week, fighting returned and attacks on civilians and UN peacekeepers ensued. This presents an enormous and difficult challenge, but one to which the African Union (AU) must respond and can respond – if the necessary political decisions are taken.

In August of last year, the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan was pressed on a reluctant President Salva Kiir and his rival First Vice-President Riek Machar. Its fatal flaw, however, was that it restored South Sudan to precisely the same state of political rivalry between armed contenders that had existed before the war erupted in December 2013 – and which was the cause of that war.

Under the terms of the pact, the troops of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) were joined in the capital Juba by those of the SPLA-In-Opposition despite the fact that the two remained unreconciled and deeply distrustful of each other. It was an explosion waiting to happen.

Last week it did happen, and since last Friday there has been intense fighting between the rival factions, including attacks on civilians in towns and cities throughout the country. Government forces have shelled the Protection of Civilians sites within UN bases, probably because they suspect opposition fighters are taking refuge there. Tens of thousands of civilians have fled to churches, UN bases and anywhere they hope they can find safety, joining the 200,000 or so driven from their homes in the previous two and a half years. And South Sudanese soldiers have attacked peacekeepers, leading to the deaths of two Chinese soldiers serving under the UN flag.

Non-indifference

On 10 July, the UN Security Council called for African countries to prepare additional troops for deployment in South Sudan, should they be required. The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Council of Ministers met the following day and called for an African intervention brigade with a mandate to secure Juba and also called for the revision of the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan’s (UNMISS) mandate.  The AU Peace and Security Council also met and put the crisis at the top of the agenda for the forthcoming African summit meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, later this week.

The site of this upcoming summit is deeply symbolic. 22 years ago, genocide was perpetrated in Rwanda, and UN troops abandoned the country, including letting thousands of trapped civilians face certain death at the hands of the murderous Interahamwe militia. This failure sparked transformative changes in how African nations would envision their role and empower themselves to act in the name of collective security, culminating in the creation of the African Union in 2002.

In Article 4(h) of its Constitutive Act, African leaders endowed the AU with the right to intervene in a country in the case of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes – a principle known as ‘non-indifference’. According to the AU Commission of Investigation into South Sudan, chaired by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and whose report was released in October 2015, crimes against humanity and war crimes were committed in South Sudan by both warring parties in the conflict that broke out in December 2013. There is every reason to fear the renewed conflict is already resulting in similar crimes.

The African Peace and Security Architecture, established painstakingly over the last 14 years, includes an intervention mechanism – the African Standby Force – for precisely the kind of urgent peace support operation needed in South Sudan today. And at the last AU summit in January, the Standby Force was declared operational.

Furthermore, the African Union has a particular responsibility in South Sudan. In line with the August peace agreement, the AU is responsible for the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, chaired by former Botswanan President Festus Mogae. It is clear that, despite his efforts, the current formula that entrusts the country’s political leaders with implementation of the agreement and the security of South Sudan’s citizens is no longer viable.

Protection and justice

There should of course be no illusions that the African intervention brigade will have an easy task. South Sudan is heavily armed and lawless. Key military actors do not want to see a peaceful settlement, and an African intervention force will need to enter South Sudan prepared to face down the warmongers.

Salva Kiir and Riek Machar are calling for calm in South Sudan despite the reality that the control they have over their supporters seems to be diminished. But if they are serious about this appeal, they should be asked formally to endorse the need for an intervention force to be deployed speedily.

[See: Who’s behind South Sudan’s return to fighting?]

Thereafter, the AU should implement its own proposals for a legal process to bring to court those – on all sides – who perpetrated war crimes and crimes against humanity against the people of South Sudan. These men should have no place in the future of a country whose people they have so grievously betrayed.

The challenge facing the African Heads of State and Government as they meet in Kigali is not whether but how to act in South Sudan. Africa’s leaders have the authority and means to act to protect the lives of tens of thousands of South Sudanese people and prevent the nation from descending into war, atrocity and famine.

Mulugeta Gebrehiwot is director of the African Peace Missions Program at the World Peace Foundation whose report on African peace missions, African Politics, African Peace, is released next week.

Alex de Waal is Executive Director of the World Peace Foundation. 

UN head urges South Sudan leaders to respect peace deal

Al Jazeera

Ban Ki-moon calls on South Sudan leaders to rebuild mutual trust and turn attention to country’s humanitarian crisis.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged the leaders of South Sudan on Thursday to respect the terms of a peace agreement that ended two years of civil war last year.

The UN chief also said a global aid appeal for conflict-torn South Sudan is just 3 percent funded, and the world body is releasing $21 million in emergency money to help. Ban spoke after talks with South Sudan’s president and rebel leader.

He appealed to them to put peace above politics and establish a transitional government of national unity, saying the government must step up to its responsibilities to protect the population, which has suffered violence, mass displacements and hunger.

“Respecting the terms of the peace agreement is not an option, it is a must,” Ban said.

 UN says violence at IDP camp in South Sudan could be war crime

Fighting has continued despite an August peace deal with at least 19 killed in the latest incident in the north-eastern town of Malakal last week when government soldiers participated in an attack on a UN-protected camp for nearly 50,000 civilians seeking shelter from the war.

“The fences are all open, you have to close the fences,” one displaced man, a resident of the camp, told Al Jazeera.

“Now look at this. The people’s health has deteriorated. People are just on the ground, their health is fragile. Look at what they eat and what they drink. Look at where they now sleep.”


READ MORE: Deadly famine looms in South Sudan


The August deal, signed under international pressure, leaves Kiir as president and returns Machar to his old job as deputy, but in a sign of the levels of mistrust between the two men Machar remains in exile despite his reappointment earlier this month.

The battle for control of the country has repeatedly pushed South Sudan to the brink of famine, with millions of people dependent on the UN and aid agencies.

“You have huge presence of UN, you can see them here in Juba all over the place, but again, we don’t know what they’re doing exactly, Andrea Mac Mabior, an analyst at Kush Media, told Al Jazeera.

“You have seen what happened in Malakal. Civilians died, but the UN is there, then why are they given these millions of US dollars?”

South Sudan won its independence from Sudan in July 2011 after decades of civil war, but less than 18 months later Kiir and Machar’s political battle for control of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) became a real war splitting the country along ethnic lines, pitting Kiir’s Dinka people against Machar’s Nuer.


READ MORE: South Sudan – Portrait of a civil war refugee


The conflict has been marked by rights violations and attacks on civilians with children murdered or recruited into militias, women and girls abducted into rape camps and used as sex slaves, multiple ethnic massacres, attacks on UN bases and aid workers.

An African Union investigation published last year found evidence of forced cannibalism and concluded that war crimes had been committed.

A succession of UN rights reports have also found evidence of war crimes.

Neither Kiir nor Machar have faced any sanctions for the actions of armed forces under their command.

During his visit, Ban is due to visit a UN camp in the capital housing people uprooted by the fighting, some of the more than 2.3 million South Sudanese forced from their homes since the war began.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies