South Sudan undermines deal to send more peacekeepers: UN
A confidential letter from the UN secretary-general says South Sudan’s government is undermining a UN Security Council decision to deploy an additional 4,000 peacekeepers, risking an arms embargo as fighting continues in the world’s youngest nation.
Ban Ki-moon letter dated Monday, obtained by The Associated Press, also lists several government obstructions to the UN peacekeeping mission in this East African country where civil war erupted in late 2013, including the demand that UN aid convoys to some areas include South Sudanese soldiers. Ban’s letter calls that “a clear violation” of the UN‘s operating agreement.
Under a resolution the Security Council approved in August, such a letter from Ban is meant to trigger a council meeting within five days to consider imposing an arms embargo and other options.
After a similar letter last month, the council discussed South Sudan behind closed doors but reportedly remain divided on an arms embargo. Meanwhile, reports of fighting continue in many parts of the country, amid concerns that the violence which has killed tens of thousands is increasingly ethnic in nature.
“What this report shows is that while South Sudanese have said the right things, they have not followed through,” said Akshaya Kumar, the deputy UN director at Human Rights Watch. “If the Security Council and the US let South Sudan skate by without an arms embargo, again, there will be a serious question mark about their credibility.”
A Security Council visit last month did little to ease the hostility among some South Sudanese officials at the international community, with some accusing UN and other aid workers of helping rebel fighters.
Ban’s latest monthly letter makes clear that South Sudan’s government has not taken “concrete actions” to follow up on agreements to allow the deployment of 4,000 additional peacekeepers and to allow the UN mission of more than 12,000 to operate without restrictions. The government is “constantly changing” its position, the letter says.
The 4,000 extra peacekeepers are meant to protect civilians after reports of numerous abuses, including gang rapes, during a new round of fighting in July in the capital, Juba.