Unknown assailants attacked a United Nations base in South Sudan yesterday possibly killing or injuring civilians who had sought refuge inside during violent clashes between Government forces and rebels, with the number of people fleeing to UN installations now reaching 35,000.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was “appalled” to learn of the attack on the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) base in Akobo and demanded that Government and opposition forces respect the rights of civilians and ensure their safety and security.
“UNMISS is doing everything it can, within its means and in a very fluid situation, to protect civilians, as well as United Nations and international personnel on the ground,” a statement issued by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said. “There are indications that civilians may have been killed and wounded in the attack, but this remains to be verified. Should these reports prove true, those responsible must be held accountable for their crimes.”
At the time, 43 Indian peacekeepers, six UN police advisers and two UN civilian staffers were present at the base.
About 30 South Sudanese had sought shelter from the turmoil plaguing areas of Akobo County, the Mission said in a statement.
“The future of this young nation requires its current leadership to do everything possible to prevent South Sudan descending into the chaos that would be such a betrayal of the ideals behind its long struggle for independence,” said Mr. Ban’s statement, issued only hours after Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson warned of the potential for even greater turmoil.
“Violence is spreading and could spread even further and we need all South Sudanese leaders and political personalities now to immediately appeal [for] calm and call on their supporters to suspend hostilities,” Mr. Eliasson told a news conference at UN Headquarters in New York. “Political dialogue is the only way to prevent further escalation.”