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Western diplomats condemn South Sudan’s attack against UN mission

March 29, 2014 (JUBA) – Diplomats from different western nations have reiterated their support for the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), condemning its government and opposition forces for threatening UN personnel in the country.

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The head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), Hilde Johnson (Photo: Getty Images)

“We strongly condemn the continued obstruction of UNMISS operations by Government and opposition forces and any threats to UNMISS personnel", partly reads their 28 March statement.

"We call on all parties to publicly denounce any actions against the mission, SRSG Johnson, and any UNMISS personnel”, the statement by envoys from the US, UK, Norway, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada missions, and European Union delegation in the country added.

Last week, the head of UN peacekeeping department South Sudan government of engaging in "negative campaign" towards the world body and urged the UN Security Council (UNSC) to intervene to discipline those responsible in the new nation.

Herve Ladsous, in a briefing to the Security Council in New York on 18 March, said South Sudan government had resorted to harassment against peacekeepers, UN personnel, restriction of activities by the World Food Programme (WFP) as well as organising demonstrations against the leadership of the UN mission in the country.

"There has been a negative campaign against UNIMISS and its leadership in South Sudan which seems systematic and organized," Ladsous told the Security Council.

The envoys also condemned the ongoing violations of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) by the Government of South Sudan, including restriction of movement, harassment, detention of personnel and seizure of UN properties and supplies.

The latest stern warning against the new state indicates how relations between the world body and its new member have turned sour.

The western diplomats described as “unacceptable” all threats and attacks on UN personnel and facilities, saying it may constitute violations of international law.

“We condemn the violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law that have resulted in the loss of lives, and internal displacements as well as refugees along the borders in neighbouring nations”, their statement noted.

“We express concern at the dire humanitarian situation and urge all parties to expedite as a matter of urgency the free, safe and unhindered access of humanitarian organizations for the timely delivery of humanitarian assistance to populations in need", it added.

UNMISS troops are currently operating under a Chapter 7 mandate, which allows the use of force to protect civilians and ensure the safety and security of UN personnel and assets. Over 70,000 displaced people have taken refuge into the UN camps within the world’s newest nation.

The world body estimates that some 3.7 million South Sudanese are now "severely food insecure," while more than a million have been displaced by the violence. Estimates indicate that over 10,000 people have been killed in the country’s violence.

Meanwhile, the various envoys urged all parties in the South Sudanese conflict to engage constructively in the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD)-led negotiations.

“We are deeply concerned by ongoing violations by all parties of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement and urge all parties to the conflict to immediately comply with that Agreement, and cooperate with the IGAD monitoring and verification efforts."

(ST)