South Sudan Consultations
Today (25 October), following consultations on Syria, Council members are expected to hold consultations on the situation in South Sudan with Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous scheduled to brief. It seems that the meeting will focus in particular on the recent outbreak of violence in Jonglei state, which occurred on 20 October. At press time, there were no indications of an outcome following the meeting.
Today’s meeting was scheduled yesterday at the request of Russia. Russia requested the meeting during consultations on Sudan-South Sudan in which it expressed concern about the 20 October attack in Twic East county which, according to media reports, claimed 79 lives. Scores were also wounded, children were kidnapped and hundreds of cattle stolen. South Sudan has accused the rebel group affiliated with David Yau Yau of the attack, although Yau Yau denied that his forces were involved. The attacks were strongly condemned by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) on 21 October.
It seems that Russia would like the Secretariat to share information about the assaults and also provide information on UNMISS activities in the aftermath of the violence. No Council member objected to the briefing.
Inter-communal conflict—as well as violence committed by Yau Yau’s forces, which consist of members of the Murle community—has been a recurring problem in Jonglei. The last major outbreak of violence occurred in July, when members of the Lou Nuer community attacked Murle, reportedly killing hundreds. There have also been reports that members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, the army of South Sudan, were involved in lootings, abuse and killings in the first half of this year in Jonglei. Since South Sudan became independent in 2011, over 1,500 people have reportedly died in fighting in Jonglei.
There has been widespread concern among Council members for some time at the violence occurring in Jonglei. A recent manifestation of this concern was the 23 August press statement (SC/11103) the Council issued in which it, inter-alia: condemned the violence against civilians in Jonglei; expressed concern with human rights violations committed in the area by armed groups and government security forces; and emphasised the importance of holding perpetrators of such acts accountable for their actions.
Council members recognise that protection of civilians is a core element of UNMISS’ mandate. While they share the view that South Sudan has the primary responsibility to protect civilians, it seems that several Council members are interested in how the mission can play a more proactive role in protecting civilians. At the same time, there is an understanding that the mission requires improved mobility (eg: enhanced surveillance and heavy lift capacity) to strengthen its ability to protect civilians.