News / Africa

UN River Convoy Attacked in South Sudan

A United Nations peacekeeper on patrol in the town of Malakal, Upper Nile State.
A United Nations peacekeeper on patrol in the town of Malakal, Upper Nile State.
Margaret Besheer
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan strongly condemned an attack Thursday on a convoy of U.N. barges taking supplies to staff and displaced civilians in Malakal, Upper Nile State.  

U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters the attack, which injured four crew members and peacekeepers, was unprovoked.

“The barges came under small arms fire, and rocket-propelled grenades were also fired at the convoy of four vessels,” he said.

This is the second time this month U.N. operations in South Sudan have been targeted, following a mob attack on a U.N. base in the town of Bor April 18.

The U.N. mission says Thursday's attack took place as four barges steamed east on the Nile River, carrying food and fuel to the U.N. base in Malakal, Upper Nile State, where thousands of civilians have taken refuge from violence.

The U.N. mission has not yet identified the gunmen who attacked the barges as they made their way along the Nile River towards the U.N. base in Malakal.

Both the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and SPLA in Opposition forces have denied responsibility for the attack and said their fighters were not present in the area.

The United Nations said it received all necessary clearances from the government before the convoy set out six days ago.

The U.N. Security Council has condemned two other recent acts in South Sudan - a massacre in Bentiu, where more than 200 civilians were reportedly killed, and a mob attack on a U.N. base in Bor.  

The Council has warned President Salva Kiir and his rival, former vice-president Riek Machar, that they must publicly state all attacks on civilians are unacceptable and hold perpetrators accountable.

The Council has said it is willing to take additional measures, which could include targeted sanctions on those sponsoring or encouraging unrest, should the violence continue, and has also U.N. human rights office to investigate the massacre last week in Bentiu, where civilians were killed along religious and ethnic lines.

On Wednesday, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power called on the international community to sanction those who are targeting civilians or acting as "political spoilers."

On Twitter, Power also accused South Sudan's government of inciting violence against peacekeepers.

U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said Wednesday that neither the South Sudan government nor rebels has shown real interest in taking part in peace talks to defuse the ongoing crisis. He also faults the government for not adequately protecting its people.

"The United Nations is doing everything it can to protect the civilians that are fleeing the violence, the war," he said. "But let us never forget that the primary responsibility for protecting civilians is with the government. We are there to support but it is the government of South Sudan to make it so that its citizens are not killed."

Also Thursday, spokesman Haq said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon telephoned leaders in the regional bloc, IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority for Development), to express support for their efforts to bring South Sudan's government and rebel forces back to the negotiating table.

“The secretary-general feels that the two parties need to be warned strongly of the consequences of their actions before the country descends into yet further violence,” he said.

The United Nations, which has is nearly 8,500 peacekeepers in the country, is sheltering 78,000 civilians at eight U.N. bases in Juba, Malakal, Bentiu and Bor.

Fighting between pro- and anti-government forces that erupted in South Sudan in mid-December has killed thousands and displaced more than one-million South Sudanese.

You May Like

800-Pound Man Determined to Slim Down

Man says he was kicked out of hospital for ordering pizza; wants to be an actor More

Australia Prepares to Resettle 12,000 Syrian Refugees

Preference will be given to refugees from persecuted minorities, and the first group is expected to arrive before late December More

S. African Miners Seek Class Action Suit Against Gold Mines

The estimated 100,000 say say they contracted the lung diseases silicosis and tuberculosis in the mines More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs