South Sudan: UN envoy urges sending more Government forces to troubled state
Special Representative Hilde Johnson (centre) on a visit to Pibor in Jonglei
State, South Sudan. Photo: UNMISS/Isaac Gideon
23 January 2012 -
The top United Nations envoy in South Sudan stressed today that the best way
to protect civilians in the strife-torn state of Jonglei is through military
deterrence and urged the Government to deploy more troops and police in the
area to patrol buffer zones between rival communities and defuse tensions.
Hilde Johnson, the Secretary-General's Special Representative and head of
the UN Mission in South Sudan (
> UNMISS), told reporters
in New York via a video-link that the UN had stepped up operations in
Jonglei and is now flying daily reconnaissance missions and deploying troops
into areas where civilians are most at risk of attacks.
She voiced deep concern over hate speech emanating from individuals and
groups inside and outside Jonglei, and warned those responsible that
inciting ethnic violence is a violation of international law and a crime
under South Sudan's domestic laws.
I have called the leadership at all levels in Jonglei state and nationally
to demand a halt to this invective.
"The United Nations condemns this in the strongest terms," said Ms. Johnson.
"I have called the leadership at all levels in Jonglei state and nationally
to demand a halt to this invective. The same message of condemnation came
from the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit, in his address to
the national legislative assembly today," she said.
She also urged the Government to bring the full force of the law to bear on
those responsible for instigating ethnic animosity through hate speech.
Deadly clashes between the Lou Nuer and Murle communities in recent weeks
have displaced tens of thousands of civilians and prompted UN agencies to
launch a major humanitarian operation to assist those in need.
UNMISS took decisive measures last month when a column of an estimated 8,000
armed Lou Nuer youth was detected advancing on the town of Pibor, which is
inhabited by the Murle ethnic group.
"We moved our forces to where civilians were under greatest threat and
committed about half of our combat-ready personnel to heavily populated
areas like Pibor County. Eight of our 15 companies were mobilized for this
operation," said Ms. Johnson.
"Our deterrent measures and early warning alerts enabled a large number of
civilians in Jonglei state to move out of harm's way ahead of time, thereby
saving thousands of lives," she said, adding that the number of casualties
would have been much higher had UNMISS not acted.
She praised the Government's decision to conduct an investigation into the
violence and to bring those responsible to justice. "The instigators of
these terrible attacks and counter-attacks must be held to account." The
Government's decision to create a peace team to lead reconciliation efforts
in Jonglei is also commendable, Ms. Johnson added.
Meanwhile, the UN World Food Programme ( <http://www.wfp.org/
> WFP) said
that humanitarian interventions in areas such as South Sudan would greatly
benefit from improved telecommunications given the level of the need for
relief services and the remoteness of some of the areas where aid is
"There is currently no public telecommunications infrastructure in South
Sudan," said Arthur Sawmadal, the WFP Head of Information Technology in
"We rely on the mobile network and this is limited to the capital cities and
a few locations in the field. Satellite services by commercial providers
have overstretched capacity so what connectivity we do have is not only
expensive, but unreliable."
As the global leader of the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster, WFP is
collaborating with the Directorate for Development Cooperation of the
Luxembourg Ministry of Foreign Affairs and telecommunications company
Ericsson to develop a cutting-edge solution to assist the entire
humanitarian community operating in disaster situations.
'emergency.lu' is a comprehensive solution to address the challenge of rapid
response capacity by filling the communications gap that often occurs at the
onset of large-scale disasters, especially in remote locations. The solution
consists of satellite infrastructure and capacity; communication and
coordination services; satellite ground terminals for long-term and rapid
deployment; and transportation of equipment to the disaster area.
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Received on Mon Jan 23 2012 - 18:32:04 EST