US envoy: South Sudan gov’t prepares attack in border state

Originally published November 30, 2016 at 4:58 am


The Associated Press

GENEVA (AP) — The United States has “credible information” that South
Sudan’s government is targeting civilians in Central Equatoria state and
preparing for “large-scale” attacks within days and weeks, a top U.S.
diplomat said Wednesday.
> U.S. ambassador to the Human Rights Council Keith Harper told a special
session of the U.N. body in Geneva that the South Sudanese government has
mobilized at least 4,000 militia members and “is staging these fighters in
Equatoria to begin conducting attacks” — a claim quickly denied by his
counterpart from the African country.

“The United States is alarmed by recent reports about the situation in
South Sudan,” Harper said, noting that over 1,900 homes in Central
Equatoria had been destroyed over the last two months.

“We have credible information that the South Sudanese government is
currently targeting civilians in Central Equatoria and … preparing for
large-scale attacks in the coming days and weeks.”

Speaking to The Associated Press after the session of the 47-member
council, Harper said that U.S. diplomats were “principally working it
through New York because that is where we can do an arms ban, arms embargo,
individualized multi-lateral sanctions. So all of these things are on the

On her Twitter account, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha
Power late Tuesday called the troop increase a “huge red flag,” saying that
the Security Council “must halt” the flow of arms to South Sudan.

During Wednesday’s session in Geneva, South Sudan ambassador Kuol Alor Kuol
Arop didn’t directly reject Harper’s claims about a new, upcoming
offensive, but responded that the country’s vice president and other top
officials are part of the transitional government.

Speaking to the AP, Arop denied any build-up of forces or plans for an
offensive. Adama Dieng, the U.N. secretary-general’s adviser on the
prevention of genocide, has said that Central Equatoria and the Yei region
are at risk of genocide.

A recent AP investigation uncovered evidence of ethnic targeting and
frequent attacks on civilians by South Sudan’s military.

According to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, more than 300,000
South Sudanese have fled into Uganda since fighting erupted in the capital,
Juba, in July.

On Monday, South Sudan’s government blocked a team of international
monitors from traveling to Central Equatoria to investigate violations of
the country’s peace

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