May 7, 2012 (BOR) – South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, has called on humanitarian agencies to adhere to travel advice and to avoid “remote areas.”
- President Salva Kiir (R) in Bor with Jonglei state governor Kuol Manyang Juuk (L), during the signing of Jonglei communities peace accord, May 5, 2012 (ST)
Kiir made the remarks in Bor on Saturday during the signing of a Jonglei community peace accord.
“I want to tell the UN agencies who are here, they move quickly to areas where there are conflicts... but this country has rebels who are fighting against us,” Kiir said.
He warned that rebels may not be able to distinguish between helicopters belonging to the UN and those belonging to the South Sudan army (SPLA). “If that helicopter is shot, who will be responsible?” asked Kiir, adding, “It will be said that this government is not protecting humanitarians agencies.”
A Norwegian, South Sudanese, Briton and South African were arrested near Helig last week by Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) allegedly for spying for the SPLA. Kiir said they had ignored the advice given to them by the SPLA, not to travel to area.
MECHEM, a South African de-mining organisation issued a statement saying two of its employees had been arrested by the Sudanese authorities.
Heglig is an oil-rich, contested region where the SAF and SPLA have been engaged in pitched battles. The SPLA withdrew in April amid claims by Khartoum that it had been militarily defeated. Juba claims it made the decision based upon international pressure. Both nations claim ownership of the region.
Kiir said some UN personnel are critical of the SPLA’s relationship with the citizens of South Sudan, particulalry in relation to disarmament programmes in Jonglei. He refuted the claims, saying that the disarmament had been peaceful and professional, describing the accusers, in the Dinka dialect, of looking like “a hen watched by rain.”
He was also critical of the condemnation Juba has received from the international community for its seizure of Heglig, saying “if there was justice on this world, we would have not received such reactions.”