MSF says UN failed to protect civilians in South Sudan
22 June 2016, 11:58
United Nations — The UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan failed
to protect civilians during a February attack on a base in the northern city of
Malakal, where at least 25 people were killed, according to the international medical
and humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders.
The group, also known as Medecins Sans Frontiers, released a
report on Tuesday detailing the failures of peacekeeping and humanitarian
assistance during the attack at a camp for internally displaced people in
Malakal, the capital of oil-producing Upper Nile State, in which two MSF staff
MSF's report found that despite a strong military presence at the
camp, the UN mission did not fulfil its mandate to protect civilians and could
have averted many of the deaths.
A UN report based on an investigation into the attack that was
circulated on Tuesday found that at least 30 people died in the attack and
placed the number of wounded at 123. According to MSF, community leaders put
the death toll as high as 65.
"Prior to the attack, they failed to prevent the flow of
weapons entering the camp; they chose not to intervene when initial fighting
broke out in the camp, and when an attack came from outside the camp they were
extremely slow to repel the assault," Raquel Ayora, MSF director of
operations, said in a statement.
MSF said a survey found that over 80% of the displaced people at
the Malakal camp now feel unsafe there and have lost their trust in UN
peacekeepers since the attack occurred.
In a note to correspondents, the UN Secretary General's office
blamed the attack on deep-rooted historical land disputes and said it was
triggered by two South Sudanese government soldiers trying to smuggle
ammunition into the camp.
The UN report found there was "confusion with respect to
command and control and Rules of Engagement and a lack of coordination" at
the time of the attack. The investigation also said there were unrealistic
expectations about how much protection the peacekeeping force could provide to
the 48 000 internally displaced persons in the camp at the time. The report did
not indicate which countries contributed to troops to the peacekeeping mission
at the Malakal base.
It said that the UN was currently reviewing recommendations made by
investigators in order to minimise the recurrence of such incidents in the