22 May 2014

South Sudan: UNMISS Says Staff Assaulted, Detained in South Sudan

Two United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) staff members were attacked and detained in recent days by suspected members of South Sudan's security forces, a U.N. spokesman has said.

"The mission deplores the behavior of alleged members of the security forces who assaulted and illegally detained two of its staff memebers in separate incidents in Juba in recent days," U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement read out to reporters in New York on Wednesday.

"These acts are illegal and in clear violation of the Status of Forces Agreement, which regulates relations between UNMISS and the government of South Sudan," Dujarric said.

The U.N. spokesman noted that President Salva Kiir reassured Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who visited Juba early this month, that the government of South Sudan is committed to cooperating with UNMISS.

UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric on attacks on UNMISS staff

The attacks were carried out as attendees at a donor conference for South Sudan urged the government to stop threatening and attacking aid workers and relief convoys.

Tense relations

Relations between the government and U.N. soured when the conflict erupted in mid-December. As thousands of people streamed into U.N. bases and compounds, seeking protection from the fighting, the government accused UNMISS of sheltering rebels inside its bases.

In January, tensions againrose when UNMISS barred information minister Michael Makuei Lueth from the U.N. base in Bor because his bodyguards were carrying weapons.

Days after that incident, Kiir accused the United Nations of seeking to take over South Sudan, speculating that UNMISS may have pushed his former vice president and political rival, Riek Machar, to rise up against him. Kiir dialed back his accusations a few days later.

In March, relations between UNMISS and South Sudan took another hit when South Sudanese officials said they had intercepted 11 U.N. trucks carrying weapons in violation of a U.N. rule that - for security reasons - arms should be transported within the country only by air.

The United Nations called the incident a regrettable mistake and dispatched a high-level team to investigate.

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