News / Africa

UN Urged to Consider Drones, Gunships for South Sudan Mission

The United Nations' Special Representative for the Republic of South Sudan, Hilde Johnson, speaks at the Voice of America town hall meeting in Juba on Thursday, March 28, 2013.
The United Nations' Special Representative for the Republic of South Sudan, Hilde Johnson, speaks at the Voice of America town hall meeting in Juba on Thursday, March 28, 2013.
Reuters
The United Nations should consider deploying surveillance drones and helicopter gunships in South Sudan because peacekeepers are struggling to protect civilians from violence and rights abuses, the U.N. special envoy to South Sudan said on Monday.
 
Hilde Johnson told the U.N. Security Council that after a U.N. civilian helicopter was shot down in December, new safety procedures and a lack of military helicopters - the peacekeepers have only three - had slowed the mission's ability to respond.
 
Johnson said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had outlined several options to boost the South Sudan mission in a report to the 15-member Security Council, including surveillance drones, helicopter gunships and more cargo and riverine transport capabilities.
 
“I urge the council to take urgent action to support the mission in filling these critical resource and capability gaps,” Johnson told the Security Council in a video link briefing.
 
South Sudan will mark two years of independence from Sudan on Tuesday and Johnson said that while most parts of the country remained stable, fighting between South Sudanese troops and armed groups in the eastern state of Jonglei was of “deep concern.”
 
Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes because of the violence and Johnson said there had been rights violations by both armed groups and national security authorities. On April 9, gunmen ambushed and killed five U.N. peacekeepers and seven civilian staff in Jonglei.
 
The U.N. mission has fewer than 6,900 troops to cover a country the size of France that has barely 300 km (200 miles) of paved roads. Seasonal rains have turned the region into a swamp, severing road access.
 
Johnson said “critical resource and capability gaps” had caused a mobility crisis for the peacekeepers that particularly affected operations in high-risk areas such as Jonglei.
 
“This is having a particularly detrimental effect on the mission's ability to implement its protection of civilians' mandate,” she said. “Effective protection is only possible through being present in those communities most at risk.”
 
The Security Council is due to renew the mandate of the U.N. mission in South Sudan later this month, and a senior council envoy said that peacekeepers should focus more on protecting civilians “rather than on spreading out across the country and doing infrastructure projects and nation building.”
 
Drones for Congo, Ivory Coast First
 
The envoy, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said deployment of unmanned surveillance drones would be useful, but that was unlikely to happen until next year and was dependent on the success of a pilot program in Democratic Republic of Congo.
 
In his report, Ban also said surveillance drones should only be considered after the Congo program had been evaluated. The U.N. mission in Congo is due to begin using surveillance drones in August to monitor the thickly forested and remote eastern border with Rwanda and Uganda.
 
Congo has been battling a year-long insurgency by M23 rebels. U.N. experts accused Rwanda of sending troops and weapons across the border to support the M23 last year. Rwanda denies the accusation.
 
The United Nations has also set aside money to deploy surveillance drones eventually in Ivory Coast to monitor its border with Liberia following a recommendation by Ban and a request from the west African country.
 
Western Ivory Coast has been the target of deadly raids blamed on supporters of former president Laurent Gbagbo, who was ousted in a civil war in 2011 after he rejected the election victory of rival Alassane Ouattara.
 
While Gbagbo is in The Hague charged with crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court, many of his top political and military allies are living in exile in neighboring West African nations.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid