“The decision by the government of South Sudan to reject an additional 4,000 UN peacekeepers to bolster the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is a very unfortunate one. After agreeing to the Regional Protection Force last year with ‘no conditions,’ South Sudan has now reversed its position, increasing the risk to tens of thousands of civilian men, women and children who have already suffered through three years of the country’s internal conflict.
“According to official statements, the spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says South Sudan is capable of providing security for its own citizens. The Defense Minister says his country is peaceful. Neither claim is true. More than 1 million people have fled South Sudan since war broke out in 2013, and an additional 1.7 million are internally displaced. Tens of thousands of people have died. Just in July, as Center for Civilians in Conflict documented in our report, violence between government and opposition fighters trapped UN forces and civilians in the crossfire, killing two peacekeepers and hundreds of civilians.
“UNMISS can protect civilians and help to stabilize the country, but only if it is properly equipped and sufficiently supported. The UN Security Council has a significant responsibility in this regard, and it needs to stand up for the peacekeepers it has dispatched in the face of ongoing obstruction by the government of South Sudan.
“The South Sudanese government has repeatedly promised to cooperate with the UN and to contain the violence, only to backtrack once international pressure or attention has shifted. After an arms embargo failed to pass at the UN Security Council in December, the government is once again playing a game with the UNSC and reneging on its commitments.
“As previously agreed, the government of South Sudan should immediately allow the deployment of the additional peacekeepers and work to end this conflict that has caused so much civilian harm and suffering.”
A little more than two years after gaining independence, following decades of armed struggle with Sudan, fighting erupted in South Sudan on December 15, 2013. The crisis, although rooted largely in a power struggle between President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar, was quickly marred by violence along ethnic lines. Within days, the situation escalated into an internal armed conflict between President Kiir’s government and military, known as the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition (SPLM/A-IO), led by Machar. In August 2015, the two sides signed a peace agreement, but violence broke out again in Juba in July 2016 and has since escalated in the Equatorias. After four years of fighting and the deployment of 12,000 UNMISS peacekeepers, in September last year, facing the threat of a UN arms embargo, South Sudan agreed to accept 4,000 additional peacekeepers.
For more information, please see:
- South Sudan rejects 4,000 additional UN peacekeepers (Al Jazeera)
- Under Fire: The July 2016 Violence in Juba and UN Response
- A Refuge in Flames: The February 17-18 Violence in Malakal POC
- ‘Those Who Could Not Run, Died’: Civilian Perspectives on the Conflict in South Sudan
Notes to editors:
Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC)’s mission is to improve protection for civilians caught in conflicts around the world. We call on and advise international organizations, governments, militaries, and armed non-state actors to adopt and implement policies to prevent civilian harm. When civilians are harmed we advocate for the provision of amends and post-harm assistance. We bring the voices of civilians themselves to those making decisions affecting their lives.
For more information please contact Christopher Allbritton at +1 (917) 310-4785 or firstname.lastname@example.org