U.N. peacekeepers arrive in South Sudan
U.N. warns that despite efforts to organize a ceasefire between rivals, tensions remain precariously high
The first peacekeeping reinforcements arrived to South Sudan on Friday, as the United Nations warned that despite efforts to organize a ceasefire between the government and rebel forces, tensions remain precariously high.
The police contingent containing 72 officers was moved from the Democratic Republic of Congo to South Sudan. These are the first of up to 6,000 troops authorized by the U.N. Security Council to carry out the international organization’s mission.
More troops and equipment are expected to arrive on Saturday.
The U.N. base has housed up to 63,000 internally displaced people since clashes erupted on Dec. 15, said U.N. peacekeeping spokesman Kieran Dwyer.
Over 1,000 people were killed since fighting started between army forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and followers of his rival, former Vice President Riek Machar.
The Security Council voted allowing the reinforcements on Thursday. The U.N. said dangers remain critical, adding that large numbers of bodies were seen outside at least one U.N. base, but could not be collected.
Kiir agreed to a ceasefire, according to East African leaders, but Machar did not immediately halt hostilities. The U.N. warned that both parties remained in conflict.
According to a U.N. statement, the U.N. Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) “says that the security situation in Upper Nile and Unity states is tense, with reports of the presence of anti-government and government forces.”
The rival sides were massing their forces across Malakal and Bentiu, the key cities in two main oil producing states, diplomats said.
Bentiu is “tense” and “there are reports that fighting may resume in the coming days,” said the UN's Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) during a daily briefing report.
“Government forces are believed to have consolidated their positions in and around Bor… Anti-government forces remain in the vicinity and the situation remains tense,” added the UN statement.
The city of Bor is a focus of the ethnic divisions which were highlighted by the violent conflict. Machar is an ethnic Nuer, while Kiir is from the rival Dinka tribe.
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