August 25, 2014 (JUBA) – The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has condemned the detention of six ceasefire monitors from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and three aircrew in Buoth, some 35km south-west of Unity state capital Bentiu.
The monitors who were part of the eight verification teams had landed in the Unity state town for their routine inspection mission before being arrested by the opposition forces on 23 August and marched to an unknown destination.
The circumstances leading to his death remains unclear, with government officials, including the spokesperson of the army, alleging the officer was kidnapped and killed.
The UN, however, said officer died of natural causes due to prolonged detention.
“A Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) liaison officer, who was part of the team, died during the detention reportedly due to natural causes,” UNMISS said in a statement.
The mission reportedly helped in locating and flying the ceasefire monitors and aircrew to its base in Bentiu on Sunday after the team was later released.
The mission pledged full support for the IGAD mediation and the monitoring and verification mechanism, as agreed by both parties on 23 January and called for full cooperation of all parties in finding a peaceful and durable solution to the current conflict.
REGIONAL LEADERS CONDEMN
IGAD also condemned the death of one of its ceasefire monitors in Bentiu in the hands of forces allied to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition (SPLM/A-IO).
“The violators of the cessation of hostilities agreement and those responsible for the death will bear the consequences”, ambassador Seyoum Mesfin, the Chairman of the IGAD mediation team said on Monday.
He said the summit of IGAD heads of state and government would decide on the way forward and spell out the punitive measures indicated in its 10 June communiqué.
“We cannot continue to treat this matter with velvet gloves as the credibility of the summit is on the line,” the special envoy said.