UN sacks UNMISS commander for failure to protect civilians

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ban ki moonThe UN on Tuesday announced the sacking of the UN force commander in South Sudan following the release of a report that condemned the UN for failing to protect civilians in July this year.
In a media release, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said the Special Investigation that was commissioned by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in August, found that the UN “did not respond effectively to the violence due to an overall lack of leadership, preparedness and integration among the various components of the mission”.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon ordered the sacking of Lt. Gen. Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki from Kenya, shortly after the investigators’ report was released. The announcement said the U.N. chief was “deeply distressed” by the findings.
The Special Investigation was led by Major General (retired) Patrick Cammaert from Netherlands. His mandate was to 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 was also to review the circumstances surrounding the attack on the Terrain Hotel and to assess the Mission's response to the attack.
The statement added that the SG was alarmed by the serious shortcomings identified by the Special Investigation, which were evident in the mission's failure to fully implement its mandate to protect civilians and UN staff during the fighting.
“These factors contributed to the failure of UNMISS to respond to the attack by Government soldiers on the Terrain camp on 11 July and protect civilians under threat,” said the statement.
The report summary said that during July’s crisis in Juba, government and opposition forces fired indiscriminately, striking U.N. facilities and (civilian protection) sites.
However, the Special Investigation was unable to verify allegations that peacekeepers failed to respond to acts of sexual violence committed directly in front of them on 17 and 18 July. The fighting in July began with clashes between President Salva Kiir’s guards and bodyguards of sacked Vice-President Riek Machar.
South Sudan has been plagued by ethnic violence since gaining its independence from Sudan in 2011. A peace agreement that was signed in August 2015 has been violated severally. The fighting has left tens of thousands dead and more than 2 million displaced, continues.
Meanwhile, the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU) has asked the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) to ensure the implementation of the Peace Agreement is inclusive and to embark on countrywide civic education for the successful implementation of the agreement.
The PSC underscored the need of establishment of accountability, justice and reconciliation mechanisms as provided for in the Peace Agreement, with a view to ensuring justice for victims of sexual violence.
The PSC issued a statement at the end of its 3-day mission to South Sudan. During the tour, members of the Council met President Salva Kiir and other members of his government, faith-based organisations and women groups, leaders of other political parties in the country as well as other stakeholders in the South Sudan peace process.

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