Published On : Tuesday, July 19 2016
South Sudanese security forces are preventing people from leaving the East African nation after fighting that began July 7 between rival armed groups loyal to President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar, Amnesty International said.
“The organization has received reports from two charter companies that national security service officers have ordered them not to carry South Sudanese nationals, particularly men,” Amnesty’s South Sudan researcher, Elizabeth Deng, said Thursday in an e-mailed statement. “It is absolutely critical that both parties to the conflict do not obstruct safe passage of civilians fleeing to places of refuge both inside and outside of the country.”
Thousands of South Sudanese reportedly gathered at the country’s southern border to enter into Uganda, but are also being prevented from crossing, the London-based advocacy group said. Juba International Airport reopened on July 12 after a cease-fire was announced to end days of fighting, which left at least 270 people dead and thousands more displaced.
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan, UNMISS, is protecting about 33,000 people who fled the violence in the capital, Juba, Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, said in an e-mailed statement.
UNMISS “reports that the situation in Juba is calm but tense with heavy” military presence, Dujarric said. “The mission reports that its peacekeepers continue to undertake limited patrols as well as strengthening security at the outer perimeter of the protection of civilian sites.”
The mission, UN agencies and funds are preparing for the temporary relocation of non-critical staff from Juba after two peacekeepers were injured in the fighting, and UN and other international non-governmental organizations’ premises were targeted by government soldiers, she said.
“The reports include allegations of a killing of at least one South Sudanese national working for an international NGO, as well as rape, including of an international NGO staff. UN staff members have also been assaulted,” Dujarric said. “We continue to call for immediate, safe and unhindered access for the protection of civilians.” Two Chinese peacekeepers with the UN mission have been killed in the latest violence, Ban said earlier this week.
The UN Refugee Agency said Friday that it has revised its South Sudan appeal amid concern the number who’ve fled elsewhere in East Africa could exceed 1 million this year. The agency is now asking for $701 million, though it’s received just 17 percent of the initial $638 million it requested, Ann Encontre, regional refugee coordinator for the South Sudan situation, said in a statement. She said there is grave concern over the probability of more people fleeing after the recent violence.