16 May 2013

South Sudan: UN Reinforces Peacekeeping Presence in Pibor Town Amid Violence

Additional United Nations peacekeepers are on alert to protect civilians in the town of Pibor in South Sudan's Jonglei state where the situation remains tense amid recent violence, looting and displacement, the Secretary-General's spokesperson today said.

"The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has a full time presence in Pibor and is continuously monitoring the security situation, particularly in respect to the few remaining residents," the spokesperson told journalists in New York.

"The Mission is prepared to assist and protect civilians under threat in the current period as well preparing to assist and protect should residents decide to return to their homes," he stressed.

UNMISS said on 14 May that it is particularly alarmed by reports about the involvement in some of the incidents of "allegedly defected and ill-disciplined members of security forces," as well as by statements issued by David Yau Yau's led armed group demanding civilians to leave Pibor as well as the town of Kapoeta, in Eastern Equatoria state.

In addition to "significant" displacement, the Mission said it had also received reports of widespread looting, including of food and aid supplies from private homes and humanitarian dwellings.

In an interview with UN Radio, spokesperson Ariane Quentier said UNMISS wants the Government to take action against the perpetrators of the violence that has been going on and make sure that those people are held to account.

UNMISS was already patrolling the town before the looting started, but had reinforced its presence there with additional troops and has deployed a military unit.

UNMISS peacekeepers also have clear instructions to assist in protecting the civilian population in Pibor, Ms. Quentier stressed.

In addition, the Acting Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, Yasmin Haque, said she was "alarmed" that once again, civilians from Pibor town have fled for their safety in large numbers, and at the reports of looting.

Dr. Haque said aid organizations had seen armed, uniformed personnel taking apart homes and breaking into small shops where those who fled the town had placed belongings for safekeeping.

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