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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid