20 December 2012

South Sudan: Wau - UN Pledges More Troops to Calm Tense Situation

Juba — The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) will deploy more peacekeepers in Wau, the capital of South Sudan's Western Bahr el Ghazal state to calm a situation, it describes as "tense".

Thousands of civilians, according to the mission, fled the violence in Wau on Wednesday and have reportedly camped at the UN base in the area.

"A significant number of civilians, mainly women, children and the elderly, remain in the UN base and continue to be protected," said Eduardo Del Buey, the deputy spokesperson for the UN Secretary General.

At least 12 people, eyewitnesses told Sudan Tribune, died Wednesday when hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of Wau to protest the 8 December killing of nearly 25 civilians in Parajallah, located 48 miles outside Wau town.

The protest follows the state's council of ministers' decision to transfer Wau county headquarters, a move rejected by the population. The decision also prompted Peter Miskin, the former commissioner of Wau to resign his post.

However, while state authorities initially claimed no one died in the earlier incident, the UN has now put the death toll at nine, while the former commissioner says up to 25 people lost their lives and almost an equal numbers injured.

The UN, Del Buey said, will continue to safeguard the airport, having reportedly conducted patrols to assess the situation in the city and affected outlying settlements.

Meanwhile as UN agencies stand ready to provide humanitarian assistance to those affected, the mission urges authorities and community leaders to exercise restraint and engage in peaceful dialogue in order to prevent a further deterioration of the fragile situation.

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