South Sudan Religious Leaders Called For Protection Force

The 12,000-strong UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, UNMISS, has faced criticism for failing to stem the latest bloodshed or fully protect civilians during the fighting. By Ashraf Shazly (AFP/File). Juba (AFP) - South Sudan's religious chiefs called Saturday for the deployment of a protection force in Juba, during a meeting with ambassadors from the UN Security Council currently on a trip to the war-scarred country.
The 12,000-strong UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, UNMISS, has faced criticism for failing to stem the latest bloodshed or fully protect civilians during the fighting. By Ashraf Shazly (AFP/File)




Juba (AFP) - South Sudan's religious chiefs called Saturday for the deployment of a protection force in Juba, during a meeting with ambassadors from the UN Security Council currently on a trip to the war-scarred country.

Representatives from the 15 nations of the Council are in South Sudan to try to persuade President Salvia Kiir to accept the deployment of a regional force -- or face sanctions.
The US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power insisted as she arrived in Juba that 4,000 additional African peacekeepers were needed.
The South Sudan government opposes the proposed additional peacekeepers on the grounds that their mandate violates national sovereignty.




A fresh wave of violence erupted in South Sudan in July, pitting Kiir's troops against former rebel chief Riek Machar's forces in Juba. The upsurge threatened a fragile peace accord signed last year to end a devastating 18-month civil war which left tens of thousands dead.
Force needed 'now'
"This force should come, and it should come now. I think this force will help us to further implement this agreement," Catholic Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro told AFP.
"As a country, we cannot address this mess alone, we cannot put the country back on track alone. And there is no humiliation in this need to be assisted."
The UN mission in South Sudan currently has over 13,000 troops but has faced criticism for failing to protect civilians, including dozens of women and girls who were raped near a UN base in Juba after a flareup of violence in the capital in early July.
South Sudan descended into war in December 2013 when Kiir accused his former deputy Machar of plotting a coup, and a peace deal signed last year was left in tatters during the flare-up in Juba in early July.
Anglican Archibishop Daniel Deng Bul backed the intervention call, saying "the UN is momentarily the father of the people of South Sudan".
Church leaders -- both Catholic and Protestant -- carry strong moral authority in Christian-majority South Sudan and bishops have played an important role in brokering past peace deals.
During the fighting in July, Machar, who had been persuaded to return to Juba as part of the national unity government agreed under the peace deal, fled the country and is now in Khartoum, having been replaced by Taban Deng Gai in Juba.
Aside from the tens of thousands of people killed, the United Nations has reported shocking levels of brutality including gang-rapes and the wholesale burning of villages.
An estimated 16,000 children have been recruited by armed groups and the national army in the conflict and 2.5 million people have been driven from their homes.

Source: AFP
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