South Sudan

Tempers Flare As GOSS Blames UNMISS For Bentiu Murders


more about sans-serif; color: #222222;”>In a statement entitled: “UNMISS corrects erroneous information provided by the Hon. Minister of Information and Broadcasting”, the agency lashes out at the Minister of Information and Broadcasting of the Republic of South Sudan, Honourable Michael Makuei Lueth, for feeding the press with “erroneous information”.

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In a press conference held earlier today, Minister Makuei accused UNMISS of selective reception of citizens fleeing the killings that happened in the Unity State capital of Bentiu on April 15 and 16.

“As usual, citizens, all the time, ran to the UNMISS compound for protection, so that they feel safe. Of the citizens who decided to run to the UNMISS compound, a few were allowed to enter. The others were not allowed to enter by UNMISS, but instead were directed to proceed to the mosque and to the churches and to the hospital.”

He added: “After the capture of the town, the rebels started their searches in the churches, in the mosque and identified particular nationalities or tribes. Those unfortunate, innocent, unarmed civilians were slaughtered by the rebel forces in the mosque, in the churches and in the hospital.”

To the contrary, UNMISS states that at no point did the Mission ever turn away any civilians who came to its camp to seek protection and instead opened its gates to all unarmed civilians who found their way to the camp.

“Since April 15, the number of civilians accommodated in the UNMISS base north of Bentiu rose from about 8,000 to approximately 22,500 today.”

Upon learning of the attacks that were taking place in various places in Bentiu Town such as the main hospital and the Kali-Ballee Mosque, continues the statement, UNMISS peacekeepers went to those locations to extract civilians who were trapped and could not find their way out, as evidenced by the attached photos of our troops extracting hundreds of civilians from the hospital.

All told, over 500 trapped civilians were extracted by UNMISS from the hospital and other places and taken to the protection-of civilians site in the Mission’s base.

“With regard to the Honourable Minister’s statement that soldiers who claimed to have returned to the national army then rebelled again with support from internally displaced persons (IDPs) living inside the UNMISS camp and attacked Bentiu, the Mission wishes to clarify that the thousands of displaced civilians in its Unity State Support Base come from many communities and have various political affiliations.”

The Mission further expressed concern that the remarks associating the IDPs with a particular military group could place all of them at risk of being targeted and attacked.

Since the beginning of the crisis, the Mission has undertaken to protect all civilians seeking shelter and continues to call for the immediate cessation of hostilities.

“The Mission wishes to emphasize the primary responsibility of the South Sudanese authorities for protecting all of their country’s civilian population and particularly the vulnerable, who include the displaced in UNMISS camps.”

Such disagreements erupted in Bor town when UNMISS guards barred a government official from accessing a UN base raising suspicion that the mission was harbouring rebels.

Tensions flared between President Salva Kiir and UNMISS Head,, Hilde Johnson, sparking off riots in Juba.

The second incident occurred when SPLA intercepted weapons being transported to Bentiu by UN vehicles.

Here we are again but we hope this time round, the disagreements will not spiral out of control.


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