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Amid Fighting in Jonglei & SPLA Inaction, US Speaks, UN Barely Audible

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 11 -- Amid renewed clashes in South Sudan's Jonglei state between Lou Nuer and Murle fighters, South Sudan Army spokesman Col. Philip Aguer said the Army had not received orders to intervene in the ethnic clashes that he said were a "communal" issue to be handled by the civilian authorities.

  "If there are two communities fighting how do you separate them with firearms?" Aguer asked. "Since these are civilians fighting civilians we think it is the (civilian) authority that should come up with a decision."

  At the UN in New York, Inner City Press asked US Acting Permanent Representative Rosemary DiCarlo, this month's Council president, about Jonglei. From the USUN transcript:

Inner City Press: there's reports of renewed fighting in Jonglei state today, and the South Sudan government said it is not sending its army, that it's a civilian matter (inaudible) by civilian authorities. I am wondering, well, does the U.S. think that the army should do more, and what is the UN's role in trying to stop this deadly violence in Jonglei state?

Ambassador DiCarlo: First of all, we are deeply concerned about the violence-the intra-communal violence-that is going on in Jonglei state. We have called on the government of South Sudan to protect civilians. We have said it is the responsibility of the government to protect civilians. We have been very clear on that. The UN, obviously UNMISS, has a mandate to protect civilians as well-Chapter VII-but it is the primary responsibility of the government.

  Later on Thursday after the Security Council extended the mandate of UN Mission in South Sudan for another year, the country's Permanent Representative Francis Deng gave a nice sounding speech about freedom of expression. But, at least at first listen live, it did not explain Aguer's statement.

  Three hours after the short meeting which included Deng's speech was over, the UN had still not put the video of the session on its website. The Free UN Coalition for Access, through @FUNCA_info, asked why, without UN explanation.

  This is the latest in a series of snafus including the cutting of the sound during South Sudan envoy Hilde Johnson's speech, a lack of translation on the UN Webcast, and bad sound quality. The UN recently gave an outside contractor TeamPeople total control, including over labor rights: many long time employees were let go. This is the result. What will the UN do?

  And bigger picture, in South Sudan what will the UNMISS mission, ultimately run by Herve Ladsous, do? Ladsous refused Press questions both Thursday morning (about the Geneva Conventions) and Thursday afternoon (about being criticized in Council consultations.) In this context, how can UN Peacekeeping be effective? Watch this site.


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