Close to 6000 ‘blue helmet’ troops will soon be sent to South Sudan to increase the number of peacekeepers from 7000 to 12 500 and the police contingent from 900 to 1323, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) said this week.
The reckless armed battle that has been raging in the world’s youngest nation after reports of a coup attempt surfaced last week has claimed the lives of some 2000 people, including UN peacekeepers.
The UN also said that manpower and equipment from its missions in DRC, Darfur, Abyei, Ivory Coast and Liberia will be transferred to South Sudan to help ‘protect civilians’ and with other duties as fighting spread in many parts of the country.
The war has since turned into an ethnic conflict, with soldiers belonging to the Nuer ethnic group fighting for Riek Machar, a Nuer, against Dinka soldiers of reigning President Salva Kiir.
Machar, who is the country’s former vice-president, has vowed to overthrow Kiir, claiming the head of state has become a tyrant and a dictator.
The UN said on Tuesday that three mass grave sites have been discovered in two different parts of South Sudan, raising the fear of massive human rights abuses being committed in the oil-rich but troubled country.
The US, which sent more dozens of soldiers to help evacuate stranded foreign nationals, said it was ready to intervene in South Sudan if the situation deteriorates further.
More than 50 000 civilians have fled to UN bases, while 24 000 others are hiding in the bush, according to London-based Guardian newspaper.
Photo: UN troops load off the body of one of their colleagues killed in South Sudan. Credit: UN