Sept 19, 2020 (Thessherald)–The Peace and Security Council of the African Union, at its 945th meeting on September 15, 2020 on the situation in South Sudan, opposed the planned withdrawal of UNMISS forces from protection of civilians sites across the country, expressing concern that the move could be a recipe for disaster.
“The Peace and Security Council notes with concern the planned withdrawal of UNMISS forces from Protection of Civilians (POCs), which may have an adverse impact on the safety and security of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs); in this respect, encourages the UN Country Team and international humanitarian agencies to ensure that that effective mitigating measures are put into place and calls on the R-TGoNU and the UN to create conducive conditions for returnees,” said the AU in its statement.AU
However, the continental body commends the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) for its protection to the civilian population in the country.
“[AU] welcomes the efforts deployed by the UNMISS in implementing its protection of civilian mandate; notes with concern the allegations of restrictions of access imposed on UNMISS and calls all parties to facilitate the work of UNMISS; strongly condemns reported deliberate targeting of humanitarian actors and calls on the Government of South Sudan, working closely with the CTSAMVM and the UNMISS, to investigate the reported killings and ensure that perpetrators of these heinous crimes are brought to justice.”
Last week, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, David Shearer, said preparations were underway to withdraw UN forces from protection of civilians sites, raising concerns about the safety of the civilian population.
South Sudan’s government and opposition groups are under increasing pressure from the international community to implement other pending provisions of the peace agreement before the IDPs are relocated to their homes.