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UN mission in South Sudan opens gate for civilians fleeing violence in Wau

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June 26, 2016 (JUBA) - The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has announced it has opened its gate in Wau town, the administrative headquarters of the newly created Wau state, to allow civilians fleeing violence access and protection.

UN peacekeepers in South Sudan with one of their helicopters (UNMISS)

The world’s body said in a statement that it provided protection to approximately 10,000 civilians who fled the violence on Friday and Saturday when fighting erupted in the town between unknown gunmen and the South Sudanese army (SPLA).

“UNMISS is continuing to provide protection to approximately 10,000 civilians in Wau, following the outbreak of violence. At this time, UNMISS military forces have created a security cordon around an area adjacent to the UN base and peacekeepers are conducting active patrolling to ensure the safety of the displaced civilians within this area,” UNMISS said in a statement.

“This area is currently secure and humanitarian partners are providing basic assistance to the displaced people,” the statement extended to Sudan Tribune further reads.

The statement further added that the mission was currently negotiating with the government forces for access to Wau town to conduct additional patrols to protect the civilian population in the town.

UNMISS clarified that opening its gates is not a first line of response in the protection of civilians but an exceptional measure of last resort to be undertaken only when all other means of protection have been exhausted.

It also explained that its bases are not designed to serve as shelters for displaced populations and it would consider additional measures in line with its mandate should the security situation deteriorate further.

“At this time, UNMISS is continuing to provide a secure environment for those displaced by the violence in Wau adjacent to its base,” it added.

Meanwhile the official spokesperson of South Sudan army (SPLA) said in a statement that the security situation in Wau town has been brought under control after “anti-peace elements supported by tribal fighters attempted to infiltrate the town.”

Citizens in Wau and surrounding villages, he added, “should not panic since security forces were doing what they could to restore law and order.”

(ST)

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