Thursday, December 29, 2011

Protecting Civilians in South Sudan

South Sudan, the world's newest country, was urged this week to take all necessary measures to protect civilians in Jonglei state after reports identified thousands of armed youth preparing to attack a rival community.  "I am deeply concerned to learn of reports of this imminent large-scale attack on civilians in Jonglei State," said Special Representative for the Secretary-General to South Sudan, Hilde F. Johnson. "The Government must act now if we are to avert a major tragedy."

Over the weekend, air patrols of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) identified thousands of armed Lou Nuer youth preparing to attack Murle communities near Likuangole in Jonglei state.

Ms. Johnson stressed that the primary responsibility for protecting civilians lies with the Government and added that UNMISS has reinforced its peacekeepers in key areas of Jonglei and is conducting continuous patrols to deter potential violence.  "Time is now running out and the Government needs to redouble its efforts to prevent a tragedy and avert large-scale violence," Ms. Johnson said. "All South Sudanese people must now put peace and stability in their new and independent country above any other concerns and interests."

Over the past months UNMISS has consistently called for an end to ethnic violence in the region, and has deployed resources to prevent and mitigate conflict in the Lou Nuer, Murle and Dinka communities. The Mission has also facilitated a reconciliation process between various communities, particularly the inclusive peace process led by the Sudan Council of Churches.  UNMISS called on all communities in Jonglei State to put an end to the inter-communal violence and to actively and immediately engage in a reconciliatory peace process.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

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