Home | News    Wednesday 10 April 2013

UNSC condemns killing of peacekeepers, civilians in S. Sudan

April 9, 2012 (JUBA/BOR) – Members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) have condemned in the “strongest” terms the 9 April attack by unidentified armed persons on a UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) convoy in South Sudan’s Jonglei state.

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A United Nations Security Council session (UN)

At least five Indian peacekeepers, two UNMISS staff and five civilians were reportedly killed Tuesday near Gumuruk settlement in Jonglei’s Pibor County. Some UN staff, the mission said, remained unaccounted for.

The Security Council, in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune, expressed their condolences to the families of the peacekeepers and the UNMISS staff killed in the attack, as well as to the Government of India.

Members of the UNSC urged South Sudan government to “swiftly investigate the incident and bring the perpetrators to justice,” further reiterated their full support for UNMISS and the troop contributing countries, but called on all parties in new nation to cooperate with the mission.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General equally condemned in the killing of the peacekeepers, UNMISS staff and civilians, and urged the Government of South Sudan to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice.

According to Ki-moon, killing of peacekeepers is a “war crime that falls under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court”.

“The Secretary-General expresses his deepest condolences to the Governments of India and South Sudan and to the families of the peacekeepers, staff members and contractors killed in the attack,” the statement reads in part.

Hilde Johnson, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in South Sudan, said the "attack will not deter UNMISS and its peacekeepers from working to protect vulnerable communities in South Sudan", adding that her mission “is determined to continue its work in supporting authorities ensure peace.”

The mission, a day before the attack, warned of the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Jonglei, the country’s largest.

Dlamini Zuma, the African Union Chairperson also strongly condemned the "criminal" and "cowardly" attack, extending the regional body’s heartfelt condolences to the families of the peacekeepers, their respective countries, UNMISS and the UN secretariat.

"The Chairperson of the Commission reiterates AU’s deep appreciation of the outstanding work being done by UNMISS. She encourages the mission to persevere in its efforts, despite the very challenging environment in which it is operating," partly reads the statement it issued on Wednesday.

Gumuruk is located in Jonglei state’s volatile Pibor area, where rebels have been fighting the government on and off since 2010 when David Yauyau lost his bid to become a member of the state’s parliament, representing the Gumuruk constituency.

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The area has also been blighted by cattle raids between the Murle tribe of Pibor County and other ethnic groups in Jonglei state.

The poor security situation means that UNMISS peacekeepers frequently patrol the area as part of their Chapter VII mandate from the UN Security Council - granted shortly after the country’s secession from Sudan in July 2011 - to protect South Sudanese civilians.

UNMISS’s patrols also aim to protect the many humanitarian aid convoys that operate in Jonglei to provide assistance those affected by the fighting between the rebels and the South Sudanese army (SPLA), which has been carrying out a disarmament campaign in the area for over a year.

The SPLA’s spokesperson, Philip Aguer, said on Tuesday that the military was not responsible for the attack, stressing the army knows very well that the UN mission is in the country with a mandate that provides support to the government.

Aguer did not, however, provide any figures of those involved in the incident, saying his office was still waiting for details from the scene of the attack.

"Our forces in Jonglei have managed to restore the situation. It is now under control. It is duty of the government to bring peace so that the country enjoys stability and will put to an end these criminal activities. The SPLA is capable of handling it", he told reporters in Juba, Tuesday.

In December last year the SPLA shot down an UNMISS helicopter in Pibor mistaking it for a Sudanese army aircraft, killing its four Russian crew members. South Sudan alleges that Khartoum is backing Yauyau’s rebellion by supplying him with weapons and ammunition, an allegation denied by the north.