February 20, 2014 (NEW YORK) – The US will work with the United Nations Security Council to hold accountable those who attack UN bases, carry out looting or kill aid workers in South Sudan, its envoy hinted on Friday.
- US ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power (Photo: AFP/Andrew Burton)
“Attacks against UNMISS [UN Mission in South Sudan] and people it protects are unacceptable,” Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN tweeted, urging South Sudan to ensure the UN can carry out their mission to save civilian lives.
She condemned the fighting that occurred Tuesday between South Sudan government troops and rebels in Malakal, the capital of the oil-rich Upper Nile state.
At least 10 people, the UN said, died when inter-communal violence broke out among the displaced people who fled intense fighting in Malakal and sought shelter within its camp.
Eye witnesses said the fight was mainly between the Shilluk and Dinka tribes on one side against the Nuer on the other. Scores of civilians were reportedly injured during the clashes in the compound where up to 21, 000 people are currently being sheltered.
Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary General on Thursday expressed deep concern over reports of renewed heavy fighting in Malakal, urging all parties to the conflict to respect international human rights and humanitarian law and ensure that civilians are protected.
“The Secretary-General reiterates the necessity for the parties to implement fully the Agreements on Cessation of Hostilities and on the Status of Detainees signed on 23 January, and to cooperate fully with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Monitoring and Verification Mechanism, which the United Nations stands ready to support”, he said in a statement issued through his spokesperson.
“The Secretary-General also calls on all parties to respect the lifesaving work and ensure unhindered freedom of movement of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and humanitarian workers,” it added.
Only “serious” political negotiations, he said, would bring peace to South Sudan. He also emphasized the need to hold accountable those responsible for crimes committed against civilians in South Sudan.
MSF TREATS 150 WOUNDED
Meanwhile, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said it treated at least 150 wounded people after Tuesday outbreak of violence in the Upper Nile state capital.
The medical charity, in statement issued Friday, expressed fears that the escalating levels of violence could threaten the security of civilians, including thousand sheltered in the UN camp.
“The high levels of violence have disrupted the humanitarian activities launched in Malakal to respond to the crisis,” says Llanos Ortiz, MSF deputy emergency desk manager.
“The reigning insecurity is having a direct impact on the lives of the South Sudanese people and is also an obstacle for them to receive impartial medical humanitarian assistance”, he added.
In the past two days, according to the agency, more than 55 gunshot wounded patients from fighting in Malakal have been brought for treatment to MSF’s facility in Upper Nile’s Nasir county, with many more expected to arrive in the coming days.
“There are episodes of violence in several areas of the country but South Sudan also suffers peaks of diseases such as measles and malaria. We are worried about the upcoming rainy season and the risk of outbreaks in a context where medical services have been widely disrupted,” warned Ortiz.
“This paints a grim picture for a vulnerable population with a scarcity of resources,” he added.