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.
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

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs