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UN, US failed to stop ‘ethnic cleansing’ in S. Sudan
October 19, 2017
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YEI: When South Sudan’s Yei region turned violent in the midst of the country’s civil war last year, a handful of UN and US officials begged their leaders for help. Government soldiers were burning villages and slaughtering men, women and children, they warned.

Their pleas fell on deaf ears. The UN did not send peacekeeping troops to stay in Yei, and the US continued to support South Sudan’s military, possibly in violation of US law, according to an AP investigation based on dozens of internal documents and interviews.

Kate Almquist Knopf, director at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies at the US Defense Department, compared the situation in South Sudan to Rwanda.

“The reality is that Rwanda happened while the UN was there, while the international community was there, and they didn’t do anything. The same thing is happening now in South Sudan,” said Knopf.

“It’s happening on Africa’s watch. It’s happening on America’s watch. It’s happening on the United Nations watch. It’s happening on everyone’s watch.”

The UN says it is still considering sending a permanent peacekeeping force to Yei if it gets more troops. The UN now has about 12,000 peacekeepers throughout South Sudan, but US officials say it would take roughly 40,000 to secure the country.

“It’s all about what resources the mission has available,” said spokesman Daniel Dickinson.

The government has denied “ethnic cleansing.”

A spokesperson for the State Department said military officials who received assistance “were vetted and not credibly implicated in the gross violation of human rights.”

However, the US aid is a “red flag,” said Senator Patrick Leahy, who sponsored the law. “The South Sudanese security forces, like their rebel counterparts, are notorious for violating human rights without fear of being punished. We do not want the United States to be associated with such misconduct.”

That month, government troops rampaged through the town of Nyori in the Yei region, according to a former local official.

He ran into the bush to hide, and returned three days later to carnage.

“I witnessed with my own eyes, young children, they were slaughtered,” he said.

But even as the violence near Yei spread, Kiden said, UN vehicles drove by without stopping.

Associated Press
 

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