UN boosts peacekeepers in South Sudan-UPDATED

The UN Security Council approved plans to almost double the number of peacekeepers in South Sudan.

UN boosts peacekeepers in South Sudan-UPDATED

World Bulletin / News Desk

The U.N. Security Council approved plans on Tuesday to almost double the number of United Nations peacekeepers in South Sudan as soon as possible to protect civilians from worsening violence that has pushed the world's newest state to the verge of civil war.

The 15-member council unanimously authorized a request by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to boost the strength of the U.N. mission in South Sudan to 12,500 troops and 1,323 police, up from its previous mandate of 7,000 troops and 900 police.

UN warns of possible war crimes

The UN is deeply worried about recent reports of "an ethnic dimension to attacks" in South Sudan including those in Juba and Jonglei, two special advisers to the UN secretary general said Tuesday in a joint written statement from the UN Headquarters in New York, urging South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and former Vice-President Riek Machar to engage in peace talks immediately.

Special Adviser to the UN chief on the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng, and Ban's Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) Jennifer Welsh warned attacks in South Sudan could "constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity".

Dieng and Welsh urged "all parties to exercise restraint and comply with international humanitarian and human rights law."

They called on those with command responsibility to prevent attacks against individuals or groups "based on ethnicity or tribal affiliation."

UN said the government of South Sudan has the responsibility to protect all South Sudanese populations "irrespective of their ethnicity or political affiliation."

UN first reported that on December 15, fighting broke out in Juba, South Sudan’s state capital, between factions of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) allied to President Salva Kiir and those loyal to former Vice-President Riek Machar.

More than 81,000 people displaced

More than 81,000 people have been displaced by the crisis in South Sudan, UN body said Tuesday.

"Access to people in need outside the UN Peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) bases - where an estimated 45,000 have sought refuge - is limited due to ongoing insecurity," said Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the Public Information Officer of UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on Tuesday in a written statement on the escalating humanitarian crisis in South Sudan.

Laerke said "an estimated 81,000 people have been displaced by the crisis in South Sudan, but the real number is likely to be higher."

"The humanitarian response to the 20,000 displaced people in two UNMISS bases in Juba is gaining momentum with registration underway and food distributions ongoing; over 2,200 families received food on 22 and 23 December in Juba. Food assistance has also reached 7,000 civilians sheltering at the UNMISS base in Bentiu, Unity State, on 22 December," Laerke said.

Displaced families in Juba have also received mosquito nets, blankets, sleeping mats, soap and kitchen sets, and additional non-food items are being pre-positioned for distribution in the coming days, Laerke also noted.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 25 Aralık 2013, 11:06