Sanctity of UN sites protecting South Sudanese civilians must be respected – Ban

Civilians fleeing the fighting and seeking refuge, wait outside a compound of the UN Mission in Bor (December 2013). UN Photo/Hailemichael Gebrekrstos

19 January 2014 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced alarm at the attempt on Sunday by senior members of South Sudan’s Government and army to forcibly enter into the United Nations compound in Bor where civilians are sheltering from the ongoing violence in the country.

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has been providing protection for nearly 70,000 civilians at its bases, including in Bor in Jonglei state, since conflict erupted in the world’s youngest nation just over a month ago.

“The Secretary-General is particularly disturbed that United Nations staff were threatened by South Sudan military when they refused to allow armed soldiers to accompany civilians to visit the UNMISS protection site today,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement.

“The Secretary-General condemns the threats made against UN personnel and demands that all parties to the conflict respect the sanctity of UNMISS protection sites.”

The spokesperson added that today’s incident is just one of a growing number of violations of the Status of Forces Agreement, making it increasingly difficult for UNMISS to implement its mandate and dangerous for UN staff working in South Sudan.

Thousands of civilians have been killed, brutally abused and left homeless in just over a month of conflict in South Sudan, the statement noted.

“The Secretary-General calls on the parties and their respective leaders to do far more to ensure that fighters under their command protect civilians and respect international humanitarian law. They should also immediately cease hostilities, which have had such a devastating impact on their young country.”