UN chief sacks commander of peacekeeping force in South Sudan over damning report

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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.

The report from a UN special investigation found that a lack of leadership in the UN mission culminated in a “chaotic and ineffective response” during heavy fighting in the capital from July 8 to 11.

Peacekeepers abandoned their posts and failed to respond to pleas for help from aid workers under attack in a nearby hotel compound, according to a summary of the report.

“The special investigation found that UNMISS did not respond effectively to the violence due to an overall lack of leadership, preparedness and integration among the various components of the mission,” said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

Chinese peacekeepers abandoned their positions at least twice and Nepalese peacekeepers failed to stop looting inside the UN compound, the inquiry found.

Mr Ban said he was “deeply distressed by these findings” and “alarmed by the serious shortcomings” of the UN mission.

The UN chief “has asked for the immediate replacement of the force commander,” said Mr Dujarric, adding that other measures would follow.

Lieutenant General Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki of Kenya had been the force commander since May. UN mission chief Ellen Margrethe Loj of Denmark steps down at the end of November after more than two years in the job.

The fierce fighting in Juba involved helicopter gunships and tanks pitting President Salva Kiir’s government forces against those loyal to ex-rebel chief Riek Machar.

Machar fled the capital during the violence, which derailed international efforts to form a unity government and restore peace to South Sudan.

Bullet holes are seen in a metal door that was shot open at the Terrain compound
Bullet holes are seen in a metal door that was shot open at the Terrain compound CREDIT:AP

There were multiple requests to the peacekeepers from China, Ethiopia, India and Nepal for forces to be dispatched, “but each UNMISS contingent turned down the request, indicating their troops were fully committed.”

During the attack, “civilians were subjected to and witnessed gross human rights violations, including murder, intimidation, sexual violence and acts amounting to torture perpetrated by armed government soldiers,” said the report.

Retired Dutch general Patrick Cammaert
Retired Dutch general Patrick Cammaert led the investigation CREDIT: AFP

The investigation led by retired Dutch general Patrick Cammaert was unable to verify allegations that peacekeepers did nothing to help women who were raped during the heavy fighting.

But in a later incident on September 2, a woman was assaulted near the entrance to a UN compound “in plain sight” of the peacekeepers, the report said.

“Despite the woman’s screams, they did not react” and other UN staff intervened, it added.

After the crisis, peacekeepers “continued to display a risk-averse posture unsuited to protecting civilians from sexual violence” and other attacks.

UNMISS soldiers refused to conduct foot patrols near UN bases and instead would “peer out from the tiny windows of armored personnel carriers, an approach ill-suited to detecting perpetrators of sexual violence and engaging with communities to provide a sense of security.”

British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft described the report as a “damning indictment” and said the Security Council as well as the UN system must draw lessons from the failures.

The council is set to discuss the crisis in South Sudan on November 17

© Alleastafrica and AFP

1 COMMENT

  1. Subject: UN chief sacks commander of peacekeeping force in South Sudan over damning report
    Nov 2, 2016

    Commentary: 2 Nov 2016
    “damning report” of Africa? It is not a new phenomenon.
    Let us not kid ourselves. Africa is on the lowest scale of world opinion and consequently the good people of the “dark” Continent are considered sub-humans. Even among OURSELVES we have reached the lowest psychological level where WE hate OURSELVES and try our best to mimic others. One cannot go lower than that.
    Let us ask ourselves:
    a) What did the African Union accomplish to restore the dignity of Africa

    b) What did African Governments establish a sense of dignity upon the good people they govern?

    c) What did the African Intellectuals accomplish in order to lift their good people from the psychological-criminal-demeaning spirit of colonial savagery?

    Can we, in all honesty, conjure (for example) that only 0.5% of African Intellectuals on Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) level (on various educational subjects) who would get together to Form an Organization for the exclusive task of development of Recommendations for the advancement of the African countries in various socioeconomic sectors? In a word, it is a replacement of the dysfunctional African Union but with exclusive power and much more different organizational structure. Is this hallucination? Perhaps! But then, how do Africans get together and find their inner strength and restore their dignity? Without dignity, a sense of value upon thyself, NOTHING worthwhile can be done but only to re-fuel the demeaning image of Africans where ever they may be around the Globe [1]. Is that our destiny? Is that what the so-called “modern” education system in Africa was all about? What ever happened to the knowledge garnered by reading countless books on Western/Eastern philosophies with respect to democracy, freedom, liberty, humanity and all other professional subjects? Were they, after all, for a piece of paper, named Degree, to the wide-eyed African Child, immersed in the so-called “modern” education? Indeed, the colonialism of TODAY is sophisticated and sleek but resulting in the same old evil and daring goal of displacing/relegating an entire continent to meaningless existence [2].
    The Story in the Article on the above-mentioned Subject:
    The Secretary General of the United Nations was “deeply distressed by [the] findings” and “by the serious shortcomings of the UN mission”. Consequently, he “asked for the immediate replacement of the force commander”. The sincerity of the Secretary General is not in doubt. But the decision is just a diplomatic gimmick – it will not change the foundation of the problem. And the African Union will keep on going peacefully, as well as all other entities and highly educated African individuals, doing their own little business without rocking their tranquil ‘boats’ in various establishments. And the unfortunate good people of Africa will keep on “screaming” reflecting their miseries. Amen! so they say <<<what a contradiction!!! THE END
    ———————————–
    Footnotes:
    [1] Please note the statement of a contender for the position of the USA Presidency who asked for African-American votes, daringly giving them the rational: “You have nothing to lose” pointing out that ‘Blacks’ are in the lowest strata in education and economic level in one of the richest countries in the world.
    [2] Please read an article at http://www.allafrica.com entitled “UK Firm to Build U.S.$1 Billion Resort in Zanzibar, by Syriacus Buguzi, 24 Oct. 2016.” TODAY is Zanzibar, TOMORROW is Tanzania itself and AFTER TOMMOROW ……………we are FREE to guess – the only freedom WE have.

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