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US pushes for African force, arms embargo on South Sudan


United Nations, United States | AFP |

The United States urged the UN Security Council on Friday to back a regional force for South Sudan to shore up UN peacekeepers unable to cope with the violence.

The council adopted a resolution extending the mandate of the UN mission in South Sudan, known as UNMISS, until August 12 to allow time to negotiate another measure authorizing the new force.

The proposed resolution is also expected to slap an arms embargo on South Sudan and targeted sanctions on those seen as responsible for the violence.

US Ambassador Samantha Power said the proposal by the African regional IGAD bloc to send an intervention brigade to Juba should be supported by the council.

“We all need to support them,” said Power.

“The United States believes the region’s proposal offers a basis to re-establish a secure environment in Juba, which is critical for the parties to make progress on implementing the peace agreement” and allowing aid deliveries, she said.

Juba was rocked by several days of heavy fighting in early July between government forces and those loyal to rebel chief Riek Machar, the latest upsurge in the two and half year war.

Nearly 300 people died in the violence and two Chinese peacekeepers were killed in an attack on a UN base, where thousands of civilians rushed for safety.

Since the flare-up, there have been at least 120 cases of rape.

UN peacekeepers are accused of standing by and doing nothing to help victims who were assaulted near the UN base’s gates.

“UNMISS as it is currently configured has proven unable and in some cases unwilling in preventing horrors like this,” said Power.

The US envoy said she had received “very disturbing reports of significant violence” in the Equatorias region.

African leaders are expected to meet with South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir in the coming days to discuss the regional force, diplomats said.

UNMISS has 13,500 troops and police deployed across South Sudan under a mandate that calls for the protection of civilians.

There has also been an outbreak of cholera in Juba and other areas, with 14 deaths and 271 cases reported since July 12, according to the World Health Organisation.

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