UN: South Sudan is ferrying troops into Equatoria region in preparation for fresh fighting

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United Nations spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said the organisation has received reports that “large numbers” of South Sudanese forces have been moved into the Equatoria region to support a planned military offensive on rebel activity.

“A large number of militia have been moving into the Equatorias in support of a planned Government offensive,” Dujarric said.

President Salva Kiir announced recently his support for ethnic-based recruitment in the military to fill gaps if non-Dinka ethnic groups were unwilling to join his army.

Dujarric said that, “In light of the warnings that we have received regarding the potential for genocide in South Sudan from the Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, it is essential that all parties cease hostilities and any planned offensives. We will continue to monitor developments very closely and ensure that the Security Council is made aware of any ongoing or imminent violence that could harm civilians and further derail the prospect for peace in South Sudan.”

UN Peacekeepers in South Sudan also reported fighting in Upper Nile State saying, “it has observed Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) troops firing on Opposition troops at the Nassir airstrip in Upper Nile and heard SPLA troops firing rocket-propelled grenades towards Opposition positions in Kedbek.”

“The UN peacekeeping mission (UNMISS) was also informed by Opposition troops that the SPLA took control of Dablual in Unity following clashes in the area on 23 and 24 November.”

The head UNMISS on Monday urged South Sudan to transcend ethnic divisions and build national identity in the aftermath of intensified ethnic targeted killings.

“South Sudanese should unite in working toward creating the national identity of this country. I thought you fought for years for one independent country and not 64 independent countries,” UNMISS chief Ellen Margrethe Loej told journalists in Juba in her last press briefing.

Loej also expressed concern over the deteriorating security situation in the greater part of Equatoria region where the government troops are battling the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in opposition (SPLA-IO) led by ousted First Vice President Riek Machar.

“The situation is not very good. And unfortunately as we speak, we are seeing a very fragile security situation in the Equatoria. I recently went both to Yambio and Torit and it was heart wrenching to hear that in Torit they were not able to take care of their farms,” she said.

South Sudan on Friday accepted the deployment of the much-awaited 4,000 strong Regional Protection Force (RPF) without conditions in the aftermath of the UN Security Council resolution.

Loej also revealed that the UNMISS encountered several challenges in its peacekeeping mission particularly at the height of the renewed July clash and the Protection of Civilians sites (PoCs).

“There have been plenty of challenges both on the external and internal front. The challenge has been that there is no peace in South Sudan. We have had difficulties in moving both from the government side and SPLA-IO side,” she disclosed.

“The government thought we were too close to the SPLA-IO at the height of the fighting. And the SPLA-IO thought we were too close to the government. In reality what we have tried to do is to be impartial in the conflict,” she revealed.

“July was another challenge where UN basically was caught in crossfire and had difficulties in providing the necessary protection for those in need. Unfortunately the PoCs have also been politicized by some people,” she added.

It was important that the international community while trying to meet the humanitarian needs of the South Sudanese, should also not forget to assist with some of the development needs.

Credit: Xinhua, Radio Tamajuz