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S. Sudanese security block UN staff from leaving Juba airport


July 2, 2014 (KAMPALA) – South Sudanese security officials on Monday temporarily detained and eventually prevented four national staff working for the United Nations Mission in the country (UNMISS) from leaving Juba airport after confiscating their passports and identity cards.

The arrival section of Juba international airport (File photo)The four were among nearly 30 officials heading for a training organised in Uganda. They were to travel on the mission’s aircraft. The detained staff were only set free after senior UNMISS officials reportedly intervened and brought them back to the UN compound.

Joe Contreras, the acting UNMISS spokesperson confirmed the incident, saying two other national staff of the mission faced similar treatment at the airport on Tuesday.

“The mission is seeking clarification from the authorities on the grounds for the confiscation of the staff members’ passports and for preventing their travel. The staff members were traveling on UN official business to undergo training at the UN regional support centre in Entebbe”, he told Sudan Tribune Wednesday.

Contreras further said UNMISS was not given any legal explanation or reasons why its national staff were barred from their official travel, but later confirmed that the confiscated passports and identity cards were eventually released by the authorities.


One of the victims told Sudan Tribune Tuesday that security operatives allegedly targeted mainly the Nuer national staffs headed for the training.

“We were about 30 UNMISS staff from various tribes in South Sudan. As we were checking in for flight to Entebbe, security operatives at Juba airport identified four of us who are Nuer among the staffs and discriminately confiscated our passports and IDs from UNMISS,” said the staff, who preferred anonymity.

He said there was no reason given or any charge by the security officers for stopping them from travelling, adding that they were simply told to first obtain a clearance from the national security department.

Multiple sources working for UNMISS accused the security operatives at the airport of “exercising tribalism and denying individuals freedom of the movement based on their ethnic background.”

“They were selected in front of us and taken away and their passports confiscated in the process,” an Equatorian UNMISS official who was in the group, but successfully travelled to Kampala said.


Last week, security operatives at Juba airport also detained and confiscated passports of two rebel colonels; Gathon Jual and Daniel Gatbel, both from the Nuer tribe.

The two military officials were trying to fly to Addis Ababa for a training organized by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which is mediating the peace talks between the government and its armed opposition.

The two represent the rebel movement in the Monitoring and Verification Team (MVT), based in Juba.

They were only released when the chairman of the MVT intervened, but failed to convince the authorities to allow them travel.

Rebels, led by the former vice president, Riek Machar, accused the government of violating the agreement conducting the work of MVT staffs which would have facilitated the officials to attend the training.

The six-month old violence started when president Salva Kiir allegedly ordered for a discriminate disarmament of the Nuer soldiers in the presidential guards unit, sparking the violence along ethnic lines largely pitting Kiir’s Dinka, the largest ethnic group in South Sudan against Machar’s Nuer, the second largest tribe.

Observers say the prevailing and continuous unfavourable treatment of Nuer individuals in government-controlled areas adds more salt to injury as many consider them rebel supporters.

Many Nuer officials, however, continue working in government with some in senior political and security positions.


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  • 2 July 21:30, by Kim Deng

    The Dinka Kingdom does not differentiate the Nuer who support King, Slava and those who against his rule. In their eyes, all Nuer are the same regardless of which side they belong. Let them (Nuer) who still support this Kingdom face it.

    repondre message

    • 2 July 21:55, by Ito

      Airport will be burned down soon and we will see where and how the officials of the tribal government will run through. I appeal to those who are still blind inside this government to start leaving the country peacefully or by force to avoid cross fire as war is visiting Juba soon.

      repondre message

    • 2 July 23:23, by Pinyin Gatkuoth

      Mr Kim
      Those who was captured in Juba airPort are neither Gov,t nor Rebal supporter,Just b/c they are Nuer,if there no Nuer who had been working with UN,all Dinka slogan will go too worse with Nuer for international line.

      repondre message

  • 2 July 23:57, by Stephen kuach

    Kim Deng and Ito.

    It’s a Security job in every airport all over the world to detain someone only if there’s something suspicious about him or her.PLEASE PLEASE:STOP PREACHING THE HATRED BETWEEN YOUR NUER TRIBE AND DINKA TRIBE BECAUSE NONE OF US WILL BENEFIT FROM IT BUT ONLY THE DEVIL.

    repondre message

    • 3 July 00:03, by Ito

      Yes, if that is the rule in every airport worldwide but it is not the same in south sudan. Suspicion is based on tribe and nothing else. As long as you are not Dinka, you are a suspect. Even one Dinka who I know told me he did not pay for a visa but others pay. He was just taken from behind the long line and let go while others have to follow the normal process. Is this real government?

      repondre message

      • 3 July 13:52, by Ahmed Chol

        @ Stephen Kuach,
        Why didn’t the security guards arrest Dinkas and Equatorians at the airport and yet there are Dinkas and Equatorians supporting the rebels? Tribalisms is what makes Salva survives and he is fanning it throughout the country by using his security guard to encourage discrimination. This has a huge effect at the grass root level.

        repondre message

  • 4 July 10:24, by Yorwin Otor

    UN staff who were apprenhended at Juba Airport were actually involve in killing civilains in Malakal town in January 2014. They fought in support of Riak Macar forces and now they want to escape since some of them will have no contracts with UN. The security must be left to do their duty. UNMISS is even colabrating with the rebels and giving them support.

    repondre message

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