The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) notes with concern recent accusations made by the SPLA of UNMISS of supposedly fostering criminal activity and harbouring armed elements in the UN protection of civilians (PoC) site in Juba.
The Mission would like to clarify the circumstances surrounding one incident which took place on Friday 16 September. At approximately 6 o’clock in the morning small arms fire could be heard coming from the vicinity of a checkpoint, manned by South Sudan National Police Service (SSNPS), located North West of the protection site. On being informed by the SSNPS that the checkpoint was under attack, UNMISS deployed a Quick Reaction Force to prevent the perpetrators from entering the POC site. The attackers withdrew from the checkpoint and, later in the morning, SPLA forces deployed to secure the area.
In the early hours of the morning on Friday 9 September, a similar incident occurred and again, following notification by the SSNPS, UNMISS responded. On this occasion, medical assistance was rendered to a wounded SSNPS officer.
UNMISS acknowledges and appreciates the professionalism of the SSNPS and SPLA forces who engaged constructively with UNMISS during these recent incidents to ensure security in this area. UNMISS continues to coordinate proactively with those at the checkpoint to deter and prevent any future insecurity.
UNMISS rejects the allegations of impropriety in our operations, and in keeping with the UN mandate on protection of civilians, and the impartial nature of our actions; we would like to report that Thursday afternoon two SPLA soldiers in plain clothes entered POC3, where they were assaulted and held captive overnight. When UNMISS UN police were notified, a formed police unit deployed immediately and conducted a successful rescue operation. The individuals informed UNMISS they had entered into PoC3 at their own free will, and after receiving medical assistance by UNMISS force; the two were handed over to National Authorities.
The mission conducts regular cordon and search operations in all of its PoC sites, in keeping with its arms free policy, and have clear entry and exit procedures. Since the July clashes, search operations have been increased in the Juba PoC site and have yielded positive results.
UNMISS condemns the continuing violence, and calls on all parties to respect the ceasefire agreement, to allow the country to move forward and put personal and political differences aside.
The UN can only work with the cooperation of the Transitional Government to reinforce the protection of civilians.