More than 1,000 killed, 400 abducted in South Sudan: UN

(JUBA) – Over 1,000 people have been killed and more than 400 abducted in the past six-months in intercommunal violence in South Sudan, a top United Nations official said.

Speaking to reporter in Juba on Tuesday, David Shearer, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for South Sudan, warned of increased risk of conflict with the start of dry seasons in the country.

“I think we can anticipate increased tensions”, he remarked.

The top UN official appealed to the transitional government to appoint officials at the county level “to fill the vacuum of power that has existed since the transitional government was formed.”

Meanwhile, Shearer also revealed that, as of Monday, the protection of civilian (POC) sites in capital Juba have been re-designated as camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs).

The POC sites were set up by UNMISS to provide thousands of families – who had fled to UN bases in fear of their lives – with sanctuary when civil war erupted across South Sudan in 2013.

Shearer, however, said the closure of the Juba sites “has followed a long and careful process, planning alongside humanitarians and in consultation with national and local government, the security services, and of course the displaced community themselves”.

“The government now has sovereign responsibility for the sites as it does with many other IDP camps across the country,” said added.

According to the senior UN official, the re-designation has allowed UNMISS to gradually withdraw troops from static duties at the sites where there is no threat so they can be redeployed to conflict hot spots where people’s lives are in real danger.

“Our approach to the protection of civilians is about being proactive, about being nimble, and being robust,” he said, adding, “That means we need to relocate our troops and staff who facilitate reconciliation and peacebuilding into areas of tension, and hopefully address that tension before conflict erupts”.

Shearer said throughout the coming dry season, UN peacekeepers will be located in new temporary bases and carry out long duration patrols to places like Manyabol, Likongule, Duk Padiat, Yuai, and Waat where tensions between communities are high.

“Troops and civilian staff will work together with local communities to deter violence, promote reconciliation, and build peace so families get the opportunity they deserve to rebuild their lives,” he added.

Source: Sudan Tribune