United Nations peacekeepers in South Sudan reported today that opposition forces are occupying Lich University, located in the central part of the country, and that said harassment and detention of UN staff was preventing the Mission from carrying out its activities.
The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) “has raised this issue with opposition authorities, reminding them that the use of educational institutions for military purposes is a violation of international humanitarian law,” a UN spokesperson confirmed to journalists in New York.
He added that peacekeepers also continued to report violations to the UN status of forces agreement (SOFA) with South Sudan in the form of harassment and detention, as well as restrictions on movement in various parts of the country.
“The Mission calls on all parties to respect the lifesaving work of the United Nations,” the spokesperson noted.
Meanwhile, in Bor, Jonglei state, UNMISS reported yesterday that firing in the vicinity of its compound, apparently a case of friendly fire between the Ugandan People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) and Auxiliary Police.
As a result of the firing, some internally displaced persons fled into the adjoining UNMISS Compound. The Mission is currently protecting some 4,800 displaced persons at that base.
“UN peacekeepers calmed the situation, and also provided medical treatment to one displaced person who was wounded in the crossfire,” the spokesperson said.
There were also reports of fighting yesterday between Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and Opposition forces in Panyagor and Wanyar Payam, also in Jonglei State.
Over the past two months, thousands of people are believed to have been killed by fighting that began in mid-December 2013 as a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy president, Riek Machar.
Visiting the country earlier this week, High Commissioner for Human Righs Navi Pillay and Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng warned that South Sudan is on the verge of catastrophe, and urged the two leaders to relinquish their “personal power struggle” and steer their impoverished, war-battered country towards stability.
Ms. Pillay and Mr. Dieng are expected to brief the Security Council on their visit.