New York

21 June 2016

Note to correspondents on the Special Investigation and UNHQ Board of Inquiry into the violence in the UNMISS Protection of Civilians site in February 2016

In answer to earlier questions, the Spokesman can say the following:

A Special Investigation and a UN Headquarters Board of Inquiry were convened to review the circumstances of the violence that erupted in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in Malakal from 17 to 18 February. During the incident, at least 30 Internally Displaced Persons were killed and 123 others were wounded. A significant portion of the camp was destroyed.

The Special Investigation, which was tasked to look into the external factors that led to the incident, has been completed. The Investigation identified the following factors as having contributed to the attacks: deep rooted historical land disputes, the ‘28 States’ Order and the Eastern Nile State Administrative order of 1 February which dismissed all Shilluk and Nuer civil servants. The Investigation determined that the immediate trigger for the attacks was an attempt by two SPLA soldiers to smuggle ammunition into the site on 16 February. The Investigation also concluded that external armed elements, some in SPLA uniforms, entered the PoC site during the period and took part in the violence and destruction of parts of the
site. The Investigation team requested that the Transitional Government of National Unity hold the individuals responsible accountable for the violence. The team also provided a number of recommendations to the Government, regional and international actors -- including the UN -- aimed at preventing such attacks in the future.

A UN Headquarters-led Board of Inquiry, which was tasked to look into the Mission’s response to the incident, is being finalised. The preliminary report of the Board mentions inter alia, that a number of issues contributed to the incident. On the UNMISS response, in particular, there was confusion with respect to command and control and Rules of Engagement and a lack of coordination among the various civilian and uniformed peacekeepers in Malakal at the time of the crisis. The Board also mentioned that there were unrealistic expectations as to the level of protection that UNMISS could feasibly provide to the 48,000 IDPs in Malakal at the time of the incident. UN Headquarters is reviewing a number of recommendations made by the Board in order to minimise the recurrence of such incidents, including the reviewing of the concept of Protection of Civilians sites and the
performance of troop and police contributing countries.

The Department of Peacekeeping Operations is engaging on the way forward with concerned troop contributing countries.

The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, and the Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, Atul Khare, will brief the Security Council in this regard on Wednesday, 22 June.