UN deploys more peacekeepers to South Sudan’s Unity state

Chinese forces serving with the United Nations Mission to South Sudan (UNMISS). The UN is bolstering its presence in South Sudan’s Unity state. (Reuters)
Updated 17 May 2018
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UN deploys more peacekeepers to South Sudan’s Unity state

  • Nearly 1.76 million people have been displaced internally since fighting broke out in 2013 between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and the former vice president he sacked, Riek Machar.
  • Head of UN mission David Shearer: “What we are witnessing on the ground is the deliberate killing of civilians as well as the sexual violation and abduction of women and children.”

JUBA: The UN mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is sending 150 peacekeepers to Unity state to protect civilians who are being targeted in clashes between the government and rebel troops, the mission said on Thursday.
Nearly 1.76 million people have been displaced internally since fighting broke out in 2013 between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and the former vice president he sacked, Riek Machar, the UN said.
A series of peace deals signed by the parties at the behest of regional groups like the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) have been violated, with the latest violence taking place in Unity state, which hosts abandoned oil fields.
“What we are witnessing on the ground is the deliberate killing of civilians as well as the sexual violation and abduction of women and children,” David Shearer, the head of the UN mission, said in a statement.
Dozens have been killed in the area in recent weeks, UNMISS said.
“Our fresh deployment will enable peacekeeping troops to patrol deeper to reach remote villages where the worst atrocities are taking place to create a protective presence and deter further fighting.”
At least 30 villages in the area had been attacked by the warring parties, Shearer said, adding that thousands of civilians were fleeing to Leer from Koch.
Those who are displaced were seeking refuge near the UN base, with the majority being children, the head of the mission said, demanding that those who are violating laws by attacking civilians should be held to account.


Co-author defends UN migration pact as opposition swells

Migrants from poor Central American countries -mostly Hondurans- moving towards the United States in hopes of a better life. (AFP)
Updated 13 November 2018
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Co-author defends UN migration pact as opposition swells

ZURICH: The Swiss diplomat who helped negotiate a United Nations migration pact has defended the accord against mounting criticism, saying it helps small countries like Switzerland defend their interests.

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was instigated after the migration crisis in Europe in 2015, which saw the biggest influx of refugees and migrants since World War II. The crisis strained resources and triggered fear of foreigners and nationalist tensions.

It was approved in July by all 193 member nations except the US, which backed out last year.

The comments from Pietro Mona, Swiss ambassador in charge of development and migration policy, come amid growing opposition to the accord, with Hungary’s right-wing government saying it will not sign the final document at a ceremony in Morocco in December.

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Austria pulled out too last month, and the prime ministers of Poland and the Czech Republic have cast doubt on their countries’ joining.

Mona said Swiss negotiators deserved credit for having the pact become the first international document to set out states’ obligation to cooperate in taking back citizens.

“The migration pact gives us an additional instrument that helps us negotiate repatriation agreements, for instance with countries like Eritrea,” he said in an interview with the Blick tabloid, published on Monday.

After some hesitation, the Swiss government said last month it would sign the compact while clarifying its position on detaining minors from the age of 15 pending deportation, which Swiss law allows but the non-binding UN pact discourages.

Since then, committees in both houses of Parliament have called for delaying the Swiss signature and giving Parliament — and perhaps voters in a referendum — the chance to decide the matter.

Some politicians, especially from the right, complain that the pact could blur the line between legal and illegal migration and undermine countries’ sovereignty.

UN Special Representative for International Migration Louise Arbour has called moves to shun the accord regrettable and mistaken and said the compact simply aimed to improve the management of cross-border movements of people.

The UN pact addresses issues such as how to protect people who migrate, how to integrate them into new countries and how to return them to their home countries. The UN has hailed it as a historic and comprehensive pact that could serve as a basis for future policies.