News / Africa

UN Force to Focus on Protecting South Sudan Civilians

A U.N. peacekeeper keeps guard outside a refugee camp in Bor, South Sudan, on April 29, 2014.
A U.N. peacekeeper keeps guard outside a refugee camp in Bor, South Sudan, on April 29, 2014.
Margaret Besheer
The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Tuesday to refocus the U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Sudan to concentrate primarily on protecting civilians instead of nation building, and it warned those obstructing peace and reconciliation that they could face international sanctions.
UNMISS, as the mission is known, was created in 2011 to help the world's newest country achieve peace and support longer-term development. But ever since violence broke out in December, the mission has had to turn all of its attention to protecting civilians.
Now the mission officially will move away from peace-building activities to protecting civilians, aiding the delivery of humanitarian assistance, monitoring human rights and preventing renewed violence.
Formalizing actions
U.N. peacekeeping chief Hervé Ladsous told VOA the new mandate formalizes activities that the peacekeepers have been trying to carry out since the crisis erupted.

South Sudanese children displaced by fighting pose for a photo at a refugee camp in Jonglei, the country’s largest state, on April 29, 2014.South Sudanese children displaced by fighting pose for a photo at a refugee camp in Jonglei, the country’s largest state, on April 29, 2014.
South Sudanese children displaced by fighting pose for a photo at a refugee camp in Jonglei, the country’s largest state, on April 29, 2014.
South Sudanese children displaced by fighting pose for a photo at a refugee camp in Jonglei, the country’s largest state, on April 29, 2014.
“We have been doing that since early this year, and it's confirmation that these are the priorities” until there’s a political settlement, Ladsous said. “And then of course we will have to think on the basis of that settlement what will be the longer-term tasks that will need to be redefined.”
In December, the U.N. Security Council increased UNMISS troop strength from about 7,000 to more than 12,000. Not all have arrived yet. The surge will include about 2,500 peacekeepers who will protect cease-fire monitors in South Sudan.
The resolution adopted Tuesday expresses support for cease-fire agreements signed in January and earlier this month, and calls for their “immediate and full implementation.” The Security Council also vowed to “consider all appropriate measures” against parties who undermine peace and security - a reference to the possible imposition of sanctions.
Refocus disappoints government
South Sudan’s Ambassador Francis Mading Deng told the council his government is disappointed that U.N. assistance for strengthening government capacities is no longer a part of the mandate, and hopes it will be included when the mandate comes up for an extension in November.
“The objective of capacity building is to help create a state that is capable, responsible and responsive, not a state that is oppressive,” Deng said. “Failure to help build a functioning state could lead to serious problems which the United Nations and the international community might be later called upon to help address.”
At least 1.3 million people displaced
The situation in South Sudan remains tense, with sporadic violations to the cease-fire between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir or to his former vice president, Riek Machar.
The United Nations estimated the violence has displaced more than 1.3 million people. Many have fled to neighboring countries and about 80,000 are sheltering at U.N. bases across South Sudan that are not equipped to handle such large numbers of people.
Now that the rainy season has begun, the U.N.’s department of humanitarian affairs said it has recorded nearly 600 cases of the water-borne disease cholera in the capital, Juba. Twenty-two people have died. A vaccination program is under way.
At a donors conference last week in Oslo, Norway, donors pledged more than $600 million out of the nearly $2 billion needed to fund the humanitarian response through the year’s end. The U.N. warned that 4 million people face severe food insecurity because of the fighting and their inability to plant for the next harvest.

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Comment Sorting
by: nyakor from: US
May 28, 2014 11:19 AM
Way to go U.N! Sometimes it is good to get/give feedback. Its great to hear that the mission is moving to protect the civilians. Regardless of what the govt is thinking and their dissapointment, the first priority is the civilians because they're the basis of the coutry. This is exactly what the govt should be doing: protecting their people, so if they are unable to do this then the unmiss has the right to do so. You are doing a morally right thing that any human with em/sympathy should agree with. Thank for you care.

by: Bol from: Bor
May 28, 2014 5:23 AM
"UN Force to Focus on Protecting South Sudan Civilians"

What were these creepy UN troops brought into South sudan in the first place if its focus was not to protect civilians?

This creepy UNIMISS troops and those who sponsoring them to occupy our country will now see that their creepy games with their employers is up. They must leave our state of Jonglei.

The Bor citizens who were supposed to be protected in Bor so-called UN compound were made to cross the river, while their adversaries the Nuers are claiming to be seeking protection in Bor.

Why are the Nuers the only ones seeking protections in all these so-called UN compounds, in Juba, in Bor, in Akobo, in Malakal and even in their own city of Bentiu Anasir?

Something stinks with this UN works in our country and it has to be tackled head on. The UN troops must leave our country, we get our hands them.

by: voldoski from: lowa
May 28, 2014 4:03 AM
Why do not you focus by the boy when he wants to overthrow the american....hahahahahahahahahahah

by: Lisa from: Tx
May 27, 2014 11:33 PM
Thanks, security council for the vote protection of civilians instead of the nation building we all know that splm have been undermining peace, by giving restriction to un. That is why south sudan never develop because their power hunger. Let people know the power is taken by peacekeeping forces, i believe when you protect the poor people You're protecting the whole country. Mr mading deng when he said failure to help building of functioning state could lead to a serious problem, nowonder the south sudan government is full of jackass who only depend on other. This reminded me when Dr riek called for the federal system so that each state could takecare of their own, calling it nation building but south sudan government rejected the idea this was in 1997. Its because by then splm thought that their untouch able even by UN, NGOs etc. The only way out is the federal system in the south sudan, we do have resources but at current situation you can not have nation building where their is No peace, people are dying of hunger and the government pretend that they care. Dr riek decided to call for democratic system in the country and yes people understand but who are you to talk about democratic system, your not allowed instead your regarded as Dr riek support. Mr mading and south sudan government it time for the transparent let the poor people voice be hard. Let them go to their home knowing that they are protected.

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