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

Unpaid Kurdish Fighters Sign of Economic Woes

Sharp cuts in Kurdistan's budget by Baghdad, falling oil revenue, coping with refugees, inflated public sector have hit regional economy hard More

Koreas Exchange List of Envoys for Family Reunion Talks

Officials will discuss date, venue and number of participants for reunion; Seoul hopes to hold event late this month More

China Targets 197 in Online Speech Crackdown

Nearly 200 punished for 'spreading rumors' online in ongoing crackdown on free speech More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 02, 2015 6:19 PM
Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.

VOA Blogs