South Sudan: UN deplores deadly attack as tensions in country simmer

UNMISS Indian Battalion conduct an operation to extract civilians who were stranded during fighting in the Upper Nile State capital Malakal, South Sudan. Photo: UNMISS/UN Military

UNMISS Indian Battalion conduct an operation to extract civilians who were stranded during fighting in the Upper Nile State capital Malakal, South Sudan. Photo: UNMISS/UN Military

South Sudan, 2 July 2015 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned a deadly attack against a United Nations ‘protection-of-civilians’ site in South Sudan amid a renewed flare-up of violence in the newfound nation.

The attack – which occurred yesterday against the UN compound outside the city of Malakal – resulted in the shooting deaths of one internally displaced person (IDP) and the injury of six others, according to sources with UNMISS, the Organization’s Mission in the country.

According to UNMISS’ account of the events, three members of forces belonging to either the Sudan People’s Liberation Army In Opposition or the allied militia led by General Johnson Olony opened fire on IDPs at the recently opened ‘protection-of-civilians’ site.

UN peacekeepers reportedly returned fire against the assailants and are currently seeking to identify the perpetrators of what the Mission is describing as an “unprovoked attack.”

UNMISS added that the exact circumstances surrounding the shooting incident “remain unclear.”

In a statement released late yesterday evening by his spokesperson, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on former Vice President Riek Machar and General Olony “to conduct an immediate investigation into this incident and hold to account those responsible.”

“[The Secretary-General] reminds the parties that they must respect the inviolability of UNMISS premises, including protection of civilian sites, which are now host to more than 140,000 IDPs,” the statement continued.

Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said the Secretary-General also reiterated that there is no military solution to the conflict in South Sudan and that he called on all parties to immediately cease the hostilities and make the necessary compromises to urgently conclude the negotiations facilitated by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

Yesterday’s shooting is just the latest outburst of violence to afflict South Sudan as the country’s 18-month conflict continues to smoulder amid brutal violence against civilians and deepening suffering across the country.

Some 120,000 South Sudanese are sheltered in UN compounds while United Nations estimates suggest that the number of people in need for 2015 will include an anticipated 1.95 million IDPs and a projected 293,000 refugees.