South Sudan + 1 more

IDPs at UN camps seek resettlement outside South Sudan

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By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

May 4, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – Internally displaced people from the Nuer ethnic group who are currently sheltering at United Nations camps in the South Sudanese capital, Juba, have demanded to be relocated to refugee camps in neighbouring countries.

In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Saturday, some members of the Nuer community in Juba argued that the South Sudanese government considers them as members of the rebel group led by former vice president Riek Machar and should be resettled to neighbouring countries to ensure absolute protection.

The internally displaced people said, however, that they did not want to be relocated to neighbouring Uganda, whose army is in direct combat against the rebel group, fighting alongside the South Sudanese army (SPLA).

The call from some members of the Nuer tribe comes as United States’ Secretary of State, John Kerry, makes a week-long tour to three African countries including to Ethiopia where he thoroughly discussed South Sudan crises with regional foreign ministers and Africa Union officials.

The statement, which also was presented to John Kerry and to the head of United Nations Mission in South Sudan, said there is a developing threat against their community.

Nuer "lives are at great risk in Juba at the hand of government troops" the statement says, adding that "it is highly possible that if this government becomes more increasingly besieged by opposition forces with its foreseeable fall, the president and his troops will tragically resort to massacring the Nuer IDPs at UNMISS compounds in Juba before fleeing."

They further urged on the US government, UN, European Union and the rest of the international community at large to put pressure on President Salva Kiir’s government to facilitate a speedy and safe relocation of the refugees to neighbouring countries.

"Or if not then there is a need for more UNMISS troops around IDPs’ sites in anticipation for this threat", the statement said.

Thousands have been killed and over a million forced to flee their homes since mid-December when conflict erupted following a dispute within the ruling party differences between senior members of the ruling party.

The conflict quickly spread to other parts of the country especially in areas inhabited by the Nuer ethnic group of Riek Machar the former vice president who is now leading the rebellion, which is known as the SPLM/A in Opposition.

Much of the violence has seen members of the Nuer ethnic group targetted, while civilians from the Dinka tribe of President Salva Kiir, have also been attacked.

Recently 147 Internally Displaced People were killed and over 200 wounded in an attack by Dinka youths on a UN camp, where members Nuer community are sheltering.

PROBE AND SANCTIONS

The Nuer community stressed that the many human rights violations committed during the conflict need to be investigated and those responsible brought to justice.

"Our situation in Juba calls for action. Our fellow tribesmen are killed in cold blood in their residential areas daily as shooting continues in the vicinity of UN camps by government forces”.

They called up on the US government and the UN to seriously probe the abuses carried out against the Nuer community.

While urging the international community to press the two warring factions form a transitional government, they suggested the UN and the US consider imposing sanctions including freezing the oil revenues being used for "killing civilians".

FOREIGN TROOPS

The statement from the Nuer community in Juba suggested that all foreign troops leave the country, as this would help quell the violence.

As well as the Ugandan People’s Defence Force (UPDF), Sudanese rebels are also alleged to have fought on the side of the South Sudanese government.

The Nuer community statement also opposed the plan to deploy regional East African forces in South Sudan - as proposed by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). They argued IGAD - through Uganda’s intervention - was part of the conflict and deploying its troops would only fuel the conflict.

(ST)