South Sudan

Kerry warns after SPLA harasses UN


South Sudanese Foreign Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin, right, welcomes US Secretary of State John Kerry


United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is accusing government troops, SPLA of restricting their movements following the outbreak of fighting in Bentiu, the oil town of Unity State.

“On 23-24 April, aid workers left Pagak in Upper Nile state because of harassment and impediments to their freedom of movement,” reads a statement released by Jennifer Paton, Public Information and Reporting Officer, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in South Sudan.

“We are working toward a resolution so that they can return and work in line with the principles of humanity, impartiality and neutrality.”

Over the past days, aid workers based in Bentiu, Unity state, have been prevented from leaving the United Nations base to carry out their work in Bentiu town as well as in surrounding neighborhoods and villages. This interrupts life-saving assistance, including medical support in the hospital, to people struck by the conflict, continued the mission.

It added: “Aid agencies count on the good offices of all parties and officials to respect the freedom of movement required for humanitarian action, so that assistance can reach civilians in need of help, on time.”

The mission says it has been dispatching patrols to assess the amount of fighting taking place near Bentiu in recent days, but the movements of those patrols have been restricted by government forces on a number of occasions.

Joseph Contreras, acting UNMISS spokesman told Radio Tamazuj that UNMISS was aware of allegations made by the rebels and some civilians that villages have been attacked and burned in the vicinity of Nhialdiu during the recent fighting in that part of Unity State by government troops.

“The Mission is unable to verify those accusations but is planning to send a team shortly to investigate those charges.”

US moves for a court to try perpetrators of war crimes

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, United States announced that it would be willing to provide funding for setting up a hybrid court in South Sudan.

The court, for which US has set aside $5m, will try perpetrators of violence in the war.

The announcement was made by US Secretary of State, John Kerry, while visiting the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

He said the court will ensure justice and accountability for atrocities committed in the war.

Acting State Department Spokesperson, Marie Harf, told Eye Radio that the court would be composed of both South Sudanese and foreign judges and lawyers.

“These funds will support a credible, impartial, and effective justice mechanism, such as a hybrid court, to hold perpetrators of violence in South Sudan to account,” Harf said adding that the funding is contingent on approval from the US Congress.

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