South Sudan

After assault on staff, UN in South Sudan calls for aid workers to be protected

21 May 2014 – The United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Sudan today demanded unhindered freedom of movement for aid workers after alleged members of South Sudan’s security forces assaulted and illegally detained two UN staff.

The UN Mission in the country (UNMISS) “remains concerned about incidents, including assault, detention and harassment of its staff, that have recently occurred and exposed its personnel to serious security risks,” a UN spokesperson said.

The incidents, reported recently in Juba, occurred despite public reassurances from President Salva Kiir, who met with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon earlier this month, and told the UN chief the Government was committed to cooperating with the Mission.

UNMISS has been protecting tens of thousands of civilians on its peacekeeping bases for months since political infighting between President Salva Kiir, and former Vice President Riek Machar turned into a full-fledged violence.

“These acts are illegal and in clear violations of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA),” the UN spokesperson said referring to the agreement which regulates relations between UNMISS and the Government.

The Mission has asked the Government to immediately investigate these violations and bring the perpetrators to justice.

Meanwhile, the number of cholera cases has continued to rise in Juba, the UN today reported.

At least 266 cases were confirmed since 20 May, 13 of them fatal. The majority of cases are treated at the Juba Teaching Hospital Cholera Treatment Centre, which is also monitoring water quality, water treatment and provision of clean drinking.

“UNMISS engineers and humanitarian partners are working hard to improve hygiene, water and sanitation inside the UN bases and are clearing drainage systems,” a spokesperson said.

The UN is also working on “decongestion of the overcrowded UN bases” especially in Bentiu, Bor and Malakal. Civilians are either being relocated to new sites or onto widened areas at present bases.

Among other precautions, cholera vaccination is ongoing in Bentiu with 13,219 people inoculated this week. In Jonglei state, cholera preparedness and response measures are also in place, including a cholera treatment centre, the spokesperson said.