The United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Sudan said today it has begun sending troops and civilian experts to Jonglei state to help deter violence and foster reconciliation in the wake of recent ethnic clashes that have left at least 600 people dead.
The fighting that began over a week ago between the Murle and Lou Nuer communities has also reportedly left 1,000 people wounded and led to the theft of tens of thousands of cattle.
Peacekeepers from the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) will work closely with members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), which have already started deploying to the affected areas.
“We stand ready to support the Government and state authorities with all their efforts to ensure peace and stability are restored,” said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of UNMISS, Hilde F. Johnson.
“And we are now deploying extra peacekeepers and roaming teams to the most vulnerable areas of Jonglei state to support their efforts. The safety and security of all of South Sudan’s peoples must come first and foremost,” she added.
UNMISS surveillance flights over the conflict-affected areas are also being conducted on a continuous daily basis, the mission said in a news release, adding that they will provide information on the situation on the ground to support the Government’s efforts to deter further outbreaks of inter-communal violence.
Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, today called on the Government of South Sudan to restore security in the conflict-affected areas and to ensure the protection of civilians.
“The High Commissioner urges the Government to work with both communities to promote reconciliation and reminds the Government of its responsibility to protect, and to ensure good governance, the rule of law and the upholding of human rights, as well as to take necessary action to prevent inter-communal clashes and general instability throughout the country,” her spokesperson, Rupert Colville, told reporters in Geneva.
The Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR) noted that the recent violence has also led to the kidnapping of more than 200 children and the burning of more than 7,900 houses, and displaced up to 26,000 people.
Meanwhile, Ms. Johnson welcomed the formation of a new Cabinet and pledged the world body’s continued support for the Government as it confronts the challenges of building Africa’s newest State
“I welcome the formation of the new Government today, and I want to pledge the full support of UNMISS in working with President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his new cabinet,” said Ms. Johnson.
“This new Government faces new challenges in building Africa’s newest nation,” she said. The needs of the people are great. The UN will have a vital role in supporting this Government.
“Only from a platform of peace can development progress follow. The road ahead will not be easy, but I am confident that with the commitment of the new Government we can and will build a better future for all people of South Sudan.”