UN troops can't protect civilians in S Sudan
27 May 2013, 18:51
Juba - The United Nations peacekeeping force in South Sudan
lacks sufficient troops and aircraft to protect civilians affected by fighting
in an eastern region, the UN envoy said on Monday.
Tens of thousands of people have been uprooted by clashes
between the army and rebel forces in Jonglei state.
Almost all of the 10 000 residents of Pibor town in Jonglei
have fled their homes, aid agencies say, following looting by the state
security forces and rebel threats to attack it.
The head of the UN mission, Hilde Johnson, said she has
doubled the number of peacekeeping troops in Pibor.
"We cannot sustain a presence with the logistical
capacity that we have, with the problems we have with air transport and by
road. So we cannot protect civilians in big, big, big numbers," Johnson
The UN mission has 6 560 troops to cover a country the size
of France with barely 300km of paved roads.
Seasonal rains have turned the region, where the government
hopes to drill for oil with France's Total, into a swamp, severing road access.
On April 9, gunmen ambushed and killed five UN peacekeepers
and seven civilian staff in Jonglei.
Earlier this month President Salva Kiir said he would punish
ill-disciplined members of the security forces engaged in acts of violence
against civilians in Jonglei and also those who gave the orders.
Johnson also dismissed criticism by a Dutch think-tank, the
Clingendael Institute, which said the UN mission steered clear of
confrontation with the government and failed to fulfill its role as a watchdog.
"If you come as an outsider with no history, and you
come waving the whip, I can assure you that the outcome is not necessarily
going to be the most positive one for your cause," the Norwegian envoy