April 19, 2014 (JUBA/NAIROBI) - The United States has strongly condemned the recent attacks by armed groups on civilians sheltered at a United Nations base in South Sudan’s Jonglei state.
- Civilians fleeing violence seek refuge at a UN camp in Bor, capital of Jonglei state, in South Sudan (AP)
Heavily armed gunmen, using rocket propelled grenades, reportedly stormed the UN mission compound and opened fire on nearly 5,000 internally displaced persons sheltered at the civilian protection site.
“This brazen, inhuman attack on unarmed civilians resulted in the deaths of at least 20 civilians and the injury of more than 70 others,” said Samantha Power, the US permanent envoy to the world body.
“This latest outrage against the people of South Sudan is an affront to the international community and violates fundamental principles of civilian protection,” she added in a statement.
The US special envoy, however, urged all parties to regard UNMISS sites as inviolable, and should afford protection to citizens sheltering at those locations.
She further said the US government would work with its international partners to establish who was responsible for – or complicit in – this horrific attack and seek to bring the perpetrators to justice.
“We reaffirm our steadfast support for UNMISS and applaud its personnel who, under tremendously challenging conditions, continue to try to protect civilians and facilitate humanitarian assistance across South Sudan,” noted the senior US official.
“We urge those countries that have committed additional forces for UNMISS to work with the United Nations to accelerate their deployment,” she added.
Both parties to the conflict, Samantha stressed, should stick to the terms of the 23 January cessation of hostilities agreement, lay down their weapons, and engage constructively in inclusive political negotiations led by the East African regional bloc (IGAD).
“South Sudan’s leaders must put the safety and wellbeing of their fellow citizens above their own short-sighted political and economic interests, or risk the future of their country, the welfare of their people, and strong international consequences,” the observed.
SPLM-SEVEN CONDEMN ATTACK
Meanwhile, the seven members of South Sudan ruling party who now live in Nairobi, Kenya equally condemned in the strongest terms this killing of innocent civilians on the basis of their ethnicity.
“There is no doubt that this callous attack was instigated by some senior government officials in Juba who hail from Bor County,” partly reads the group’s statement issued this week.
“The killing of civilians is a crime against humanity and a serious breach of international humanitarian law,” adds the statement, which bears the name of its spokesperson, John Luk Jok.
The former detainees also urged the UN to conduct thorough investigation into this horrific attack, in compliance laws with such as the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949, which South Sudan ratified.
“The government is responsible for the collapse of law and order in the country through its negative policies and inability to protect the lives and property of the citizens,” the group said.
The former detainees, in their release, also called upon the UN, African Union and the IGAD regions to speedily intervene in the deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation in South Sudan where millions of lives are still at risk.
They also welcomed the establishment of the AU Commission of Inquiry, under the chairmanship of ex-Nigerian leader Olusegun Obasanjo, but urged the Commission to speedily start its work given the continued deterioration of human rights situation in the country.