A unit of United Nations peacekeepers is heading to South Sudan’s Maban County after at least five South Sudanese humanitarian workers were killed earlier today by a community-based self defence militia calling itself the Mabanese Defence Forces.
The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), which condemned the killings, confirmed that it had dispatched four armored personnel carriers from its base in the Upper Nile State town of Melut to protect UN and humanitarian personnel.
The ‘blue helmets’ will also protect some 125,000 civilians seeking shelter on the UN compound in the area, where they had fled from fighting in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains.
Today’s killings come a day after a staff member from a humanitarian non-governmental organization, Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), was shot and killed in Maban.
The murder spurred UN humanitarian coordinator in the country, Toby Lanzer, to call on national authorities to offer greater protection.
“In the past days, violence and harassment of civilians and aid workers – including based on their identity – has increased in the area,” Mr. Lanzer said in the statement released yesterday.
An estimated 1.5 million people have been uprooted in fighting that started with a political impasse in mid-December 2013 between President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar.
Representatives of the two feuding sides and their supporters have now reportedly resumed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) which is overseeing the talks, has set a 10 August deadline to agree on a transitional government.