The UN deputy secretary-general for peacekeeping operations, Herve Ladsous, advised the UN Security Council (UNSC) on Wednesday that the UN peacekeeping mission (UNMISS) in South Sudan should be extended to the end of August due to the continuing uncertainty on the ground and the violence that has killed more than 300 people.
“The current situation in the country remains fluid and uncertain,” said Ladsous in his briefing to the Security Council on the activities of the UN Mission in South Sudan (Unmiss), whose mandate will expire on 31 July.
“The secretary-general’s recommendation for a technical roll-over of the Unmiss mandate remains valid and necessary, while we conduct an assessment of the requirements to address the situation on the ground,” he said, adding that the temporary arrangement should be for one month to give the secretariat time to do a quick assessment, consult the region and the African Union and make recommendations to the council.
Ladsous said that if the mission needed to be reinforced, including through additional troops and more robust capabilities such as attack helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles to fulfil a “protection of civilians” mandate, it would be imperative that these reinforcements implement the same mandate as all other troops, and answer to the same chain of command.
Wednesday’s meeting came after days of heightened concern at the UN in the wake of the deadly clashes that erupted in and around the capital, Juba, between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and those backing First Vice-President Riek Machar.
Ladsous told the Council that, as of Wednesday morning, humanitarian partners estimated that at least 36 000 civilians had been displaced by the fighting between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the SPLA in Opposition.
According to initial South Sudan government figures, at least 272 people have been killed, including 33 civilians.
“I am convinced, however, that this is only the tip of the iceberg, given alarming reports over the last few days indicating that civilians were barred from safer grounds, including UN compounds,” he said.
A ceasefire declared by Kiir on the evening of 11 July, and seemingly endorsed by Machar, appears to be holding in Juba, with the exception of sporadic shooting heard in parts of the city, he said, noting that the SPLA appears to be in “full control” of Juba.
Opposition forces are scattered around the areas of Jebel and Yei road while SPLA troops are setting up defensive positions along the Yei and Gudele road.
“Further clashes, therefore, cannot be ruled out,” Ladsous explained.
– African News Agency (ANA)