October 5, 2016 (JUBA) – The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) did refuse to allow into its compound for protection fleeing civilians from the July fighting in the South Sudanese capital, Juba, and instead used tear gas against them to disperse them, a latest report has revealed.
A report released on Wednesday by the U.S.-based Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) accused the UN peacekeepers in the war-ravaged nation of failing to carry out their Chapter Seven mandate which was supposed to protect the civilians, including through the use of force against the perpetrators of violence.
Currently, over 12,000 U.N. peacekeepers are in South Sudan with more than 200,000 civilians sheltering in U.N. camps in the capital and across the country.
The new report, based on interviews with 59 South Sudanese civilians and 21 officials with the U.N. mission, among others, revealed that some peacekeepers refused orders to protect civilians during the July chaos in Juba.
For four days from 8 July, the report narrated, fighting occurred near the two United Nations bases in Juba, with at least several hundred rounds hitting the offices and staff accommodation of UNMISS.
“In what has become a devastatingly common refrain in South Sudan, the parties to the conflict inflicted serious harm on civilians and UNMISS was unable and, at times, unwilling to respond effectively,” partly reads the report.
The report said some of the peacekeepers instead fired tear gas on the fleeing civilians in preventing them from entering their compound for protection.
It said the UNMISS peacekeepers underperformed to a large extent, calling for an investigation into their conduct and to hold to account "units" or "individuals" responsible for the negligence.
The peacekeepers, the report added, also did not respond either to help aid workers, with many Americans, being raped and looted by government forces at the nearby Terrain compound, close to the UNMISS camp.
Chinese peacekeepers at a U.N. camp instead fled from their positions in response to heavy fighting nearby, leaving behind some weapons and ammunition. Two Chinese peacekeepers died during the July fighting, and six others sustained major injuries.
“Outside of the POC sites, civilian men and women also faced serious threats to their safety and wellbeing. Many civilians tried to flee to the UN bases only to have fighters block, harass, and even fire on them. SPLA soldiers conducted house-to-house searches during which they carried out extensive looting as well as rapes, abductions, and summary executions, at times targeting civilians on ethnic grounds,” lamented the report.
In the days and weeks following the crisis, it said the SPLA soldiers and allied youth militia fighters perpetrated widespread sexual violence against women and girls who went outside the POC sites in search of food and other basic necessities.
For almost three years, UNMISS has hosted as many as 200,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) on its bases, in camps referred to as Protection of Civilians (POC) sites. In Juba, some 37,000 IDPs reside in two areas, known as POC1 and POC3, attached to the UN House base where UNMISS’s civilian and military headquarters are located.
As the violence in Juba unfolded, an additional 5,000 IDPs fled to the UN base in Tongping, in the heart of the city. In close proximity to both of these UN bases, the report said government and opposition forces fired indiscriminately with small arms and artillery fire, killing at least several dozen civilians in the POC sites alone.
The report recommended, among others, the need for UNMISS to project greater force and presence to improve protection for civilians, including outside the POC sites and take a stronger stance in reasserting the Mission’s freedom of movement, including by not agreeing to the South Sudanese army (SPLA) restrictions on the type of vehicles in which the Mission can move.
UNMISS, it said, should also track systematically and report to the UN Secretariat every Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) violation, in accordance with Security Council Resolution 2304.
The report also called on the South Sudanese government to cease obstruction of UNMISS activities and movements and uphold the terms of SOFA.
It also called on the government to allow the swift and full deployment of the Regional Protection Force (RPF) authorized by the Security Council, including the unhindered movement into the country of all equipment and enablers deemed necessary for the RPF to carry out its functions.
It also urged the government to provide the land necessary for the Mission to construct a base or bases for the RPF battalions.
The international community wants a rapid deployment of additional 4,000 troops to Juba to provide security and protection of the civilians, vulnerable leaderships and vital government installations including the Juba international airport.
The full report is available at :