Tag Archives: UN and South Sudan

Splintering of South Sudan conflict makes peace hard to find says UN

Reuters

Splintering of South Sudan war makes peace more elusive – United Nations

By David Lewis | JUBA

JUBA South Sudan’s civil war has mutated from a two-way fight between the president and his ousted former deputy to a fragmented conflict, making it harder to put it back together and peace more elusive, the top U.N. peacekeeper in the country said.

David Shearer, head of the 13,000-strong United Nations mission, welcomed signs that regional leaders were rejuvenating the peace process but said any initiative must include all factions, including that of former Vice President Riek Machar, and discourage the multiplication of armed groups.

South Sudan slipped into civil war in 2013, just two years after becoming independent from Khartoum, and some 4 million people – around one third of the population – have fled to neighbouring countries or to pockets of relative safety.

The conflict, ignited by a feud between President Salva Kiir and Machar, has resulted in ethnic cleansing between the leaders’ respective Dinka and Nuer communities.

However, an escalation of fighting since last July that forced Machar to flee the country a month later has seen clashes spread to previously unaffected areas.

“The situation now is somewhat different to what it was a year ago, when it was largely bipolar,” Shearer told Reuters in an interview late on Monday.

“We are seeing a lot more of the conflict being played out at a very local level and that is worrying because as it fractures it becomes more difficult to try to put the pieces back together again.”

Fighting has in particular affected the southern Equatoria regions, previously largely spared violence. The spike in fighting resulted in South Sudan having the fastest growing refugee population in the world as civilians poured into Uganda.

Tens of thousands of civilians have fled to camps within South Sudan that are ringed by U.N. troops.

Peacekeepers have frequently been criticised for failing to do enough to protect civilians but the U.N. leadership says troops are obstructed and restricted by the army.

A combination of red tape and unwillingness meant it took eight months for the first of 4,000 U.N. reinforcements approved to start deploying after last year’s fighting.

PLACES AT THE TABLE

Analysts and diplomats say regional peace efforts have stumbled for much of the last year as Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya adopted a more bilateral approach to the conflict.

But Shearer was optimistic that a recent meeting of regional leaders in Ethiopia would result in a more collective approach to the crisis.

“There was a sense that they want to rejuvenate the peace agreement and start moving that forward. That collective effort hasn’t been apparent for the last year,” he said.

Machar remains in exile in South Africa, excluded from the process.

Shearer said while regional leaders were reluctant to return to the “old formula” of insisting on a potentially explosive face-to-face between Kiir and Machar, there was recognition that Machar’s camp needed to be represented in talks and he could too, further down the line.

The U.N. chief said there was a delicate balance between a rejuvenated and broadened push for peace and creating incentives to add to the plethora of armed groups.

“What we don’t want to do is to encourage a greater degree of conflict or arming of groups in order to be relevant and have a place at the table,” he warned.

(Editing by Michael Perry)

UN condemns attack on South Sudan base

Reuters

JUBA Unknown assailants attacked a U.N. operating base in northern South Sudan overnight, showing “callous disregard” for civilians and aid workers, the head of the U.N. mission said.

The assault in the town of Leer, which lies in an oil-producing region, was repelled by Ghanaian peacekeepers. There were no reported injuries.

The assailants’ identity was not clear. David Shearer, head of the U.N. mission, said the attack overnight from Wednesday into Thursday was launched from the direction of a nearby government-held town.

“We call on all parties to the conflict to respect the sanctity of U.N. premises,” Shearer said in a statement.

“We are here to protect and support the people of South Sudan,” he added. “It is clear the attackers have no consideration for their plight, given those who most desperately need help will suffer more because of a likely resulting delay of humanitarian aid.”

Government officials were not immediately available for a comment.

South Sudan’s main rebel force, SPLA-IO, denied any involvement.

“UNMISS (the U.N. mission) is protecting our civilians in government areas while we protect the ones in the liberated areas. Therefore, we can’t attack their base in any way,” deputy SPLA-IO spokesperson Lam Paul Gabriel said.

Separately on Thursday, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called on the Juba government to halt offensives towards Aburoc in the northern Upper Nile region, which borders Sudan, where between 35,000 and 50,000 people have sought refuge.

“Civilians in Aburoc are at serious and imminent risk of gross human rights violations, inter-ethnic violence and re-displacement,” Zeid said in a statement.

“The civilians in Aburoc have nowhere left to go, with the (army) closing in from the south and options to flee northwards severely limited and fraught with danger,” Zeid said.

Civil war erupted in South Sudan in late 2013. The fighting has forced more than 3 million people to flee their homes and plunged parts of the country into famine, creating Africa’s biggest refugee crisis since the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

(Reporting by Clement Uwiringiyimana; Editing by Richard Lough and Andrew Heavens)

 

South Sudan – UN says some African states oppose return of Riek Machar

Reuters

By Michelle Nichols | UNITED NATIONS

UNITED NATIONS East African states and South Africa believe that allowing South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar to return to the war-torn country would not “necessarily be positive at this stage,” said United Nations envoy David Shearer on Wednesday.

Machar, who fled to Democratic Republic of Congo in August after fierce fighting in South Sudan, is being held in South Africa to prevent him from stirring up trouble, diplomatic and political sources told Reuters in December.

Shearer, who heads a U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, confirmed that was the case.

“The feeling very much within the region is that his role, in terms of bringing him back, wouldn’t necessarily be positive at this stage, so that’s the decision of regional governments and South Africa,” Shearer told reporters in New York.

South Sudan descended into civil war in 2013 after President Salva Kiir fired Machar as his deputy, unleashing a conflict that has spawned armed factions often following ethnic lines.

Shearer said Festus Mogae, the former Botswana president who heads the international mediation and monitoring body JMEC in South Sudan, and U.N. envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, Nicholas Haysom, had both visited Machar.

“What’s the most important thing — and I have made this point to everybody including President Kiir — is that the constituency he represents must be part of any peace process and any process that moves forward,” Shearer said.

The United Nations has warned of a possible genocide as millions have fled their homes, the oil-producing economy is in a tail-spin, crop harvests are devastated because of the worst drought in years and millions face famine.

The United States slammed Kiir on Tuesday for the African state’s “man-made” famine and ongoing conflict, urging him to fulfill a month-old pledge of a unilateral truce by ordering his troops back to their barracks.

U.N. sanctions monitors reported to the Security Council last month that South Sudan’s government is mainly to blame for famine in parts of the country, yet Kiir is still boosting his forces using millions of dollars from oil sales.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols;

 

South Sudan – UN denied access to alleged massacre site

Reuters

NAIROBI South Sudanese authorities are blocking United Nations peacekeepers from visiting a town where soldiers are alleged to have killed civilians including children this week, a U.N. spokeswoman said on Friday.

Peacekeepers have been trying to get to the town of Pajok, near the border with Uganda, for four days after unconfirmed reports emerged of mass killings.

“They are still not there,” said Shantal Persaud, a spokeswoman for the U.N. Mission in South Sudan. “Negotiations continue with the local authorities.”

The peacekeepers have been barred by the South Sudanese military, New York-based U.N. spokeswoman Eri Kaneko said this week.

Thousands of South Sudanese refugees fled into Uganda this week after they said government forces killed civilians in Pajok on Monday. A Reuters tally of witness testimonies counted at least 17 deaths.

The refugees said some of those killed were children shot as they tried to flee, while others had their throats slit before their bodies were strung up from door frames.

The South Sudanese government denied its forces targeted civilians. It said an operation in Pajok, a town of more than 50,000 people 15 km (10 miles) north of the Ugandan frontier, was to flush out guerrillas.

South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011 after decades of war, but has been mired in factional conflict since President Salva Kiir sacked his vice president Riek Machar in 2013. The fighting that followed has often split the country along ethnic lines.

Both sides have targeted civilians, human rights groups say.

More than 6,000 people fled from Pajok to Uganda this week, Babar Baloch, a U.N. refugee agency spokesman, said in a statement on Friday.

“Refugees report witnessing their loved ones shot dead at a close range, with many arrested or slaughtered, including children. Families fled in different directions; the elderly and disabled who could not run were shot dead,” he said.

Baloch added that many displaced people were still hiding in the bush trying to find their way to Uganda while homes and properties had been looted and burned, with main roads out of the town reported to be blocked by armed groups.

The assault on Pajok is the latest in a series of attacks in the fertile Equatoria region. Many towns and villages in the region are now deserted, residents say.

Around 1.7 million people have fled South Sudan, most of them to Uganda, which is struggling to cope with the influx. Nearly two-thirds of the new arrivals are children.

(Editing by Mark Heinrich)

UN says flood of refugees from South Sudan rising fast

Reuters

U.N. says tide of refugees from South Sudan rising fast

By Elias Biryabarema | KAMPALA

KAMPALA Some 1.5 million refugees have fled fighting and famine in South Sudan to neighbouring countries, half of them to Uganda, and thousands more are leaving daily, the U.N. refugee agency said on Thursday.

Political rivalry between South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar ignited a civil war in 2013 that has often followed ethnic lines.

The two signed a shaky peace deal in 2015, but fighting has continued and Machar fled in July after days of clashes between soldiers loyal to him and Kiir’s forces in the capital Juba. He is now in South Africa.

Charlie Yaxley, spokesman for the UNHCR in Uganda, said the agency estimated the total number of South Sudanese who have gone to neighbouring countries at 1.5 million, half in Uganda.

In December there were an estimated 600,000 South Sudanese who had arrived in Uganda.

Yaxley said there were thousands of new arrivals every day. The UNHCR had planned for 300,000 this year.

“We have already in the first two months of this year received 120,00 new arrivals. If this rate of inflow continues actually that figure for 2017 will be far higher,” Yaxley said.

Refugees arriving in Uganda often say they are fleeing from ethnic violence.

“I was in Invepi … and almost every refugee I spoke to had either seen a friend or family member killed in front of their eyes,” Yaxley said, referring to the latest refugee settlement set up in Uganda.

Violence has prevented many farmers from harvesting crops and the scarcity of food has been compounded by hyperinflation, triggering famine in parts of South Sudan.

The UNHCR says the refugee crisis is the world’s third largest after Syria’s and Afghanistan’s.

(Editing by George Obulutsa and Andrew Roche)

Tens of thousands flee hunger in South Sudan into Sudan

Reuters

KHARTOUM More than 31,000 South Sudanese refugees – mostly women and children – have crossed the border into Sudan this year, fleeing famine and conflict, the United Nations refugee agency said on Monday.

The United Nations declared famine last week in parts of South Sudan’s Unity State, with about 5.5 million people expected to have no reliable source of food by July.

“Initial expectations were that 60,000 refugees may arrive through 2017, but in the first two months alone, over 31,000 refugees arrived,” a statement from the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Khartoum said.

More than a million people have fled South Sudan since a civil war erupted in 2013 after President Salva Kiir’ fired Vice President Riek Machar. Fighting between government forces and Machar-led rebels has caused the largest mass exodus of any conflict in central Africa since the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Some 328,339 South Sudanese refugees have sought refuge in Sudan, including about 131,000 in 2016, many exhausted, malnourished and ill, having walked for days. More than 80 percent of the latest arrivals were women and children.

The fighting has uprooted more than 3 million people and the U.N. says continuing displacement presented “heightened risks of prolonged (food) underproduction into 2018”. In the fighting, food warehouses have been looted and aid workers killed.

South Sudan is rich in oil resources. But, six years after independence from neighbouring Sudan, there are only 200 km (120 miles) of paved roads in a nation with an area of 619,745 square km (239,285 square miles).

(Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Ahmed Aboulenein; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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.