United Nations peacekeepers did not intervene in July to stop South Sudanese soldiers from raping and murdering Western aid workers, a new UN report finds.
“During the attack, civilians were subjected to and witnessed gross human rights violations, including murder, intimidation, sexual violence and acts amounting to torture perpetrated by armed government soldiers,” the report states. The aid workers and staff called for help from UN peacekeepers stationed less than a mile a way, but received no assistance.
The UN report blames “a lack of leadership on the part of key senior Mission personnel” which “culminated in a chaotic and ineffective response to the violence.”
Troublingly, the report finds South Sudanese government forces were directly responsible for the violence, a claim the government itself does not even deny. The troops apparently “fired indiscriminately” at different buildings, including UN facilities. The violence stems from a continued power struggle between South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar, which has plunged the world’s youngest nation back into civil war.
The UN already has a contingent of nearly 12,000 peacekeepers, which have been unable to quell the violence. South Sudanese officials are wary of letting even more peacekeepers in, fearing increased Western influence and power.
South Sudanese violence even extends to U.S. diplomats stationed in the country. Soldiers in the country opened fire on a U.S. diplomatic convoy for no apparent reason in July, shooting nearly 50-100 rounds directly into the clearly marked vehicle. U.S. Marines were deployed from the embassy to protect the convoy and rescue the diplomats.
American officials speculated that the attack on the U.S. convoy, and deliberate targeting of Westerners for rape, was a concerted attempt to get all Western powers out of the country. The strategy may work, reports indicate several U.S. diplomats left the country in the wake of the incident. America also deployed dozens of additional U.S. Marines to the Embassy in South Sudan for force protection.
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