United Nations – The UN Security Council on Christmas eve authorised an increase of the UN peacekeeping force in South Sudan to nearly 14,000, in the face of a rapidly deteriorating security and humanitarian crisis in the country.
Following the request by the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, the council unanimously approved a temporary increase in the strength of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) to 12,500 military and 1,323 police from a current combined strength of 7,000.
The crisis has left hundreds of civilians dead and tens of thousands of others driven from their homes.
In a resolution passed under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which authorised the use of force, the 15-member Council demanded an immediate cessation of hostilities and the immediate opening of a dialogue between the rival factions.
It also condemned the fighting and violence targeted against civilians and specific ethnic and other communities as well as attacks and threats against UNMISS personnel.
The council’s resolution demanded that all parties cooperate fully with UNMISS personnel as they implement their mandate in the protection of civilians.
It, however, stressed that efforts to undermine the mission’s ability to implement its mandate and attacks on UN personnel would not be tolerated.
Tensions within South Sudan burst into open conflict on Dec. 15 when President Salva Kiir’s government said soldiers loyal to former deputy president Riek Machar, dismissed in July, launched an attempted coup.
Kiir belongs to the Dinka ethnic group and Machar to the Lou Nuer.
Last week, 2,000 heavily armed assailants stormed an UNMISS base in Akobo, in restive Jonglei state in an attack that left about 20 Dinka civilians dead, as well as two UN peacekeepers. (NAN)