UN: Mission condemns clashes in South Sudan town

New York, US (PANA) - The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has condemned Friday's outbreak of violence in Bentiu which caused hundreds of people to seek shelter at the nearest airport.

Mr. Toby Lanzer, UNMISS officer-in-charge, in a statement, said: "I am deeply troubled by Friday's morning’s outbreak of violence and the mission condemns it."

He said between 6:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. (South Sudan time), heavy, sustained small arms and artillery fire was heard to the southeast of the UNMISS Base in Bentiu, the capital of Unity State. One artillery shell exploded next to the UNMISS base, but nobody was injured by the blast.

He said that approximately 340 civilians fled from Bentiu and took shelter with UNMISS troops stationed at the airport, noting that the Mission protected the civilians and then escorted them from the airport to the protection of civilians (POC) area in the UNMISS compound outside Bentiu.

Mr. Lanzer also said that UNMISS had taken swift action to protect the people who sought shelter at the airport and it was now receiving these civilians into the base.

"I call on those responsible for today’s hostilities to refrain from any further violence, and to avoid any actions that hinder the protection or assistance provided by UNMISS and aid agencies, respectively."

Political in-fighting between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar, started in mid-December 2013 and has since turned into a full-fledged conflict that has also sent nearly 100,000 civilians fleeing to UNMISS bases around the country.

Overall, the crisis has uprooted some 1.5 million people and placed more than 7 million at risk of hunger and disease.

These latest clashes come as the two rivals and their representatives fell short of the goal of reaching a power-sharing deal by 10 August, through talks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, being facilitated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

Earlier this week, the UN Security Council visited South Sudan and reiterated that it was ready to impose sanctions against anyone who undermined the ongoing talks.

Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant of the United Kingdom, which holds the rotating presidency of the Council for August, who spoke with reporters in Juba, expressed the Council's readiness "to consider all appropriate measures" against those who undermined the peace, stability and security of the country.

"This is a very clear statement by all 15 members of the Security Council that there will be consequences for those who try to undermine agreements that are reached in the Addis Ababa talks," Mr. Grant stated.
-0- PANA AA/MA 15Aug2014

15 august 2014 20:27:44

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