UN mission in South Sudan criticized over July attacks

UN mission in South Sudan criticized over July attacks

Kenneth Drake
November 6, 2016

Kenya said on Wednesday it would withdraw its troops from the United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Sudan after it sacked a Kenyan who led the force and was accused of not responding to an attack on a hotel in the South Sudanese capital Juba in July. "General Ondieki", the ministry said.

Kenya thoroughly disagreed with the statement, saying the way the United Nations handled the "grave matter will not address the root causes of the unfortunate incidences in South Sudan, nor does it offer a sustainable solution to the recurring violence in South Sudan".

"What is clear is that UNMISS suffers from structural dys-functionality, which has severely hindered its capacity to discharge its mandate", the statement added.

In Nairobi, the Kenyan foreign ministry said the government "takes great exception to this decision" to fire Ondieki and lashed out at the process as lacking transparency and consultation.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday sacked the commander of the peacekeeping force in South Sudan following a damning report showing failure to protect civilians during violence earlier this year in Juba.

Despite frantic phone calls for help to the mission's headquarters, the investigation found, rescuers never came.

After almost four hours, South Sudan's National Security Service extracted most of the civilians.

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The report's findings suggest a pattern of lax responses by peacekeepers in protecting South Sudanese civilians.

The U.N. has posted some 1,800 peacekeepers - from China, Ethiopia, India, and Nepal - in Juba.

A private security company, dispatched by an aid group, rescued the women the following morning, the inquiry said.

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) had 2,277 Indian peacekeepers serving under Ondieki's overall command.

The face-off between President Salva Kiir and deposed Vice President Riek Machar has led to an escalated restiveness in the country, predominantly in the capital.

The report said that in two instances the Chinese battalion "abandoned some of its defensive positions" at a refugee camp, while the Nepalese police unit did not act properly to stop looting by some refugees inside the UN House and to control crowds. The council is set to discuss the crisis in South Sudan on November 17. Kenya also had pledged to contribute troops for an additional 4,000 peacekeepers, whose deployment remains uncertain amid opposition from some South Sudan officials.

In August 2015, the warring parties negotiated a peace deal to establish a national unity government, but that largely disintegrated in July when fighting resumed between forces loyal to Kiir and those of Machar after their security forces engaged in a firefight at the presidential complex. The U.N. chief is considering further action.