NEW YORK (IDN) – A distinguished Dutch General has been tasked with probing into the response of the UN mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) to the violence that erupted in the country’s capital Juba in July 2016.
A statement issued by the office of the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the appointment of Major General (retired) Patrick Cammaert of the Netherlands on August 23 to lead an independent special investigation.
He will review reports of incidents of attacks on civilians and cases of sexual violence that occurred within or in the vicinity of the UN House Protection of Civilians (PoC) sites in Juba.
“[The investigation] will also determine the actions of UNMISS and whether the Mission responded appropriately to prevent these incidents and protect civilians within its resources and capabilities at the time,” noted the statement.
“In addition, the investigation will review the circumstances surrounding the attack on the Terrain Hotel and assess the Mission’s response,” it added.
The statement noted that the special investigation team will also undertake a field visit to the Juba to conduct interviews with the relevant interlocutors. A final report of the probe will be presented to the Secretary-General within one month, the findings of which will be made public, it added.
Major General (retired) Cammaert had a distinguished military career in both the Netherlands with the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps and the UN, including as Force Commander in UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), as Military Advisor to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, and as General Officer Commanding the Eastern Division in the UN Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC).
Recently, he led a Headquarters-Board of Inquiry on the circumstances of the clashes that occurred in the UNMISS PoC site in Malakal, South Sudan, on February 17-18, 2016.
On August 17, alarmed by preliminary findings on the July 11 attack on a the Hotel Terrain in South Sudan’s capital, in which one person was killed and several civilians were raped and beaten by men in uniform, the UN Chief decided to launch the independent investigation to examine this and other incidents and evaluate the overall response by UNMISS.
The incidents occurred during a spate of recent clashes between rival forces – the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) loyal to President Salva Kiir and the SPLA in Opposition backing First Vice-President Riek Machar – that broke out in and around Juba, on July 7, close to the fifth anniversary of the country’s independence.
UN compounds and UNMISS-managed civilian protection sites were attacked during the fighting and, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, a preliminary UN investigation into the violence and its aftermath revealed that Government security forces carried out killings and rapes, and looted and destroyed properties.
The young country has faced ongoing challenges since a political face-off between the two leaders erupted into full-blown conflict in December 2013. The crisis has produced one of the world’s worst displacement situations with immense suffering for civilians.
“Despite the August 2015 peace agreement that formally ended the war, conflict and instability have also spread to previously unaffected areas in the Greater Equatoria and Greater Bahr-El-Ghazal regions of South Sudan. This past month, deadly clashes in once-stable Wau resulted in the deaths of more than 40 people, while up to 35,000 fled their homes,” UN News Service said. [IDN-InDepthNews – 24 August 2016]
Photo: IDP’s that took refuge and protection with UNMISS, pack up their belongings following five straight days of heavy clashes in Juba in early July. Photo: UNMISS/Eric Kanalstein
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