January 20, 2014 (JUBA) - A United States-based rights body on Monday described South Sudan’s army’s attempt to forcefully enter a United Nations base in its Jonglei state without prior notice and approval, as a violation of the status of force agreement.
"It is unacceptable that armed government soldiers tried to force their way into an UNMISS base. All forces should respect the sanctity of UN bases for civilians, as required under international humanitarian law and South Sudan’s agreement with the United Nations”, said Skye Wheeler, a researcher at Human Rights Watch.
"This incident underscores the need to bolster protection of civilians,” she added, urging immediate deployment of the 5,500 additional peacekeepers approved by the world body for South Sudan.
Meanwhile, a religious leader has warned that armed confrontation between the SPLA and anti-government forces would not easily resolve the ongoing crisis in the new nation.
“From what I see, this war is more deadly than that of liberation from former Sudan. Within a short time, cities have exchanged hands with much destruction in terms of human and properties”, Pastor Andrew W. Henry told Sudan Tribune on Monday.
The cleric made these remarks in reaction to recent reports of the army’s successive victories against rebels in the country’s key strategic town of Malakal, the Upper Nile state capital and Bor.
“Now, with the government reclaiming Malakal for the second time, Bor for the third time and others as well, is this indication that the rebels are finished, and they would be forced to sign a peace document? Absolutely not”, stressed Pastor Henry.
“This war is far from ending,” he added.
The army announced Monday that it had captured Malakal from the rebels, just days after gaining full control of Bor town.
He, however, advised the country’s leaders to firs look into humanitarian conditions of the population, not military solution to the conflict.
“There is no history of rebels being easily defeated especially within a short period of time. It even gets difficult when things take the ethnic line”, emphasised the cleric.