September 19, 2016 (JUBA) – A spokesperson for the South Sudanese army (SPLA) has openly accused the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) of “making South Sudan very conducive for rebellion”, an allegation the world body rejects.
- UN peacekeepers in South Sudan with one of their helicopters (UNMISS)
Lul Ruai Koang claimed armed men emerging from UN-manned Protection of Civilians Sites (POCs) attacked the police and army in Juba last week.
The attack, he added, comes at a time when the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was airlifting rebel fighters fleeing South Sudan.
“They [UN] put the guns in boxes, they have been loading them on a plane and the SPLA-IO fighters are boarding the plane and this is very serious,” Lul told reporters.
“So UNMISS and the UN are making the environment very conducive for a rebellion to flourish, and they have become a party to it,” he added.
But UNMISS dismissed the accusation and “notes with concern recent accusations made by the SPLA of UNMISS of supposedly fostering criminal activity and harbouring armed elements in the UN protection of civilians (PoC) site in Juba.”
“UNMISS rejects the allegations of impropriety in our operations, and in keeping with the UN mandate on protection of civilians, and the impartial nature of our actions; we would like to report that Thursday afternoon two SPLA soldiers in plain clothes entered POC3, where they were assaulted and held captive overnight,” said the UN.
There are more than 12,000 UNMISS forces in South Sudan operating under chapter seven of the UN to protect civilians. Since conflict out in December 2013, nearly 200,000 people took refuge at the UNMISS bases in Juba, Bor, Malakal, Bentiu, Wau and Renk for fear of being targeted by government forces.
The peace agreement signed in August 2015 has not helped to convince the mainly Nuer ethnic civilians, the tribe of SPLM IO leader Riek Machar, that peace has returned to the country. Renewed clashes in July have threatened the agreement.
UNMISS said clashes first occurred at the vicinity of a checkpoint, a posted manned by the police, located north-west of the protection site on Friday, September 9.
“On being informed by the SSNPS that the checkpoint was under attack, UNMISS deployed a Quick Reaction Force to prevent the perpetrators from entering the POC site. The attackers withdrew from the checkpoint and, later in the morning, SPLA forces deployed to secure the area,” the world body further stated.
UNMISS said in both attacks at the government post, there was high cooperation and called on the South Sudanese rival parties to cease further hostilities.
“UNMISS condemns the continuing violence, and calls on all parties to respect the ceasefire agreement, to allow the country to move forward and put personal and political differences aside,” it said.