United Nations peacekeepers failed to respond to an attack on civilians by South Sudanese government troops at the Hotel Terrain in the capital Juba in July, less than a mile from a U.N. compound, a U.N. inquiry found on Tuesday.
“During the attack, civilians were subjected to and witnessed gross human rights violations, including murder, intimidation, sexual violence and acts amounting to torture perpetrated by armed government soldiers,” the inquiry found.
The independent inquiry assessed the response by the U.N. peacekeeping mission, known as UNMISS, to the outbreak of several days of fighting in Juba between South Sudan President Salva Kiir’s troops and soldiers loyal to his rival Riek Machar.
“A lack of leadership on the part of key senior mission personnel culminated in a chaotic and ineffective response to the violence,” according to the executive summary of the report.
The U.N. inquiry found that peacekeepers did not operate under a unified command, “resulting in multiple and sometimes conflicting orders to the four troop contingents from China, Ethiopia, Nepal and India.”
It said that despite multiple requests for peacekeepers to respond to the attack on Hotel Terrain, “each UNMISS contingent turned down the request, indicating their troops were fully committed.”
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has asked for the immediate replacement of the Kenyan UNMISS force commander, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Tuesday. U.N. South Sudan envoy Ellen Loj will step down at the end of November.
Political rivalry between Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and his former deputy Machar, a Nuer, led to civil war in 2013 that has often followed ethnic lines. The pair signed a shaky peace deal a year ago, but fighting has continued.
U.N. peacekeepers have been deployed in South Sudan since 2011, when the country gained independence from Sudan.
The inquiry found a “lack of preparedness, ineffective command and control and a risk-averse or ‘inward-looking’ posture resulted in a loss of trust and confidence – particularly by the local population and humanitarian agencies – in the will and skill of UNMISS military, (and) police to be proactive and show a determined posture to protect civilians under threat.”
UN Chief Fires General in South Sudan After Harsh Report
By Edith M. Lederer | for Associated Press,
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has fired the commander of the U.N. peacekeeping force in South Sudan after an independent investigation sharply criticized the military response to deadly attacks in July on a U.N. compound housing 27,000 displaced people and living quarters for U.N. staff and others.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric on Tuesday announced the dismissal of Kenyan Lt. Gen. Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki shortly after the investigators’ report was released, saying the U.N. chief was “deeply distressed” by the findings.
The report says “a lack of leadership on the part of key senior mission personnel culminated in a chaotic and ineffective response to the violence” at the compound, known as UN House.
The report says that in three days of fighting, two Chinese peacekeepers were killed and several wounded.