United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the violence that broke out overnight and continued today in the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) civilian protection site in Malakal, in the northeast region of the country, claiming the lives of at least seven internally displaced persons and injuring approximately 40 others so far.
Noting with concern the rising inter-communal tensions between the Dinka and Shilluk that precipitated the incident, the Secretary-General warned all parties against stoking ethnic disputes and called on them to refrain from any actions or statements that could further escalate the situation, according to a statement attributable to his spokesperson.
“The Secretary-General also reminds all concerned, including Government security forces, of the inviolability of the United Nations compounds,” according to the statement. “He underscores in no uncertain terms that any attack directed against civilians, UN premises and peacekeepers may constitute a war crime.”
In the statement, the Secretary-General also urged the leaders of South Sudan to implement without delay the peace agreement reached six months ago, so that the people of South Sudan can begin a process of reconciliation and healing.
Earlier today, UNMISS strongly condemned the violence that erupted last night.
In a press release, UNMISS said that violence involving the use of small arms, machetes and other weapons broke out yesterday in the late evening between youths from both communities, and that violence also continued this morning.
“The Mission calls on all communities to refrain from violence, restore calm and resolve differences through dialogue,” UNMISS said.
The Mission said that UNMISS police in charge of maintaining order within the protection sites immediately intervened with tear gas to disperse the crowd. Casualties were brought to the international non-governmental clinic at the site.
UN troops have increased perimeter patrolling while physically securing areas in the vicinity of site, UNMISS said. The Mission is also engaging with local authorities in Malakal to de-escalate the situation.
Stressing that such an attack against civilians and UN premises may constitute a war crime, UNMISS also reminded all concerned, including security forces, of the “civilian character of the compound, and the sanctity of UN assets and personnel, as well as that of the civilians protected inside the UN compound.”
UNMISS protects 47,791 civilians in Malakal, while 198,440 civilians are currently protected at six UNMISS bases throughout South Sudan.