Nairobi, Kenya | AFP |
Kenya announced Wednesday it was withdrawing from United Nations peacekeeping duties in South Sudan after UN chief Ban Ki-moon fired the Kenyan head of the force for failing to protect civilians.
Continued deployment of Kenyan troops in South Sudan “is no longer tenable”, the foreign ministry said, saying the country would “withdraw, immediately” its forces there.
Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday sacked the commander of the peacekeeping force in South Sudan Lieutenant General Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki following a damning report showing failure to protect civilians during violence earlier this year in Juba.
The report from a UN special investigation found that a lack of leadership in the UN mission culminated in a “chaotic and ineffective response” during heavy fighting in the capital from July 8 to 11.
Peacekeepers abandoned their posts and failed to respond to pleas for help from aid workers under attack in a nearby hotel compound, according to a summary of the report.
The UN mission known as UNMISS has 16,000 troops deployed in South Sudan, which has been at war since December 2013.
“The special investigation found that UNMISS did not respond effectively to the violence due to an overall lack of leadership, preparedness and integration among the various components of the mission,” said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
Chinese peacekeepers abandoned their positions at least twice and Nepalese peacekeepers failed to stop looting inside the UN compound, the inquiry found.
Ban said he was “deeply distressed by these findings” and “alarmed by the serious shortcomings” of the UN mission.
The UN chief “has asked for the immediate replacement of the force commander,” said Dujarric, adding that other measures would follow.
Lieutenant General Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki of Kenya had been the force commander since May. UN mission chief Ellen Margrethe Loj of Denmark steps down at the end of November after more than two years in the job.
The fierce fighting in Juba involved helicopter gunships and tanks pitting President Salva Kiir’s government forces against those loyal to ex-rebel chief Riek Machar.
Machar fled the capital during the violence, which derailed international efforts to form a unity government and restore peace to South Sudan