UN Chief sacks blue Helmet commander in South Sudan

UN Secretary General Ban Kin-moon has fired the commander of the peacekeeping force in South Sudan as he was “deeply distressed” by a report accusing the blue helmets of failing to protect civilians during the violence in the nation’s capital in July.

The world body announced the dismissal of Lieutenant-General Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki from Kenya, shortly after the report was released here.

Stephane Dujarric, Ban’s spokesman, said the secretary-general had “asked for the immediate replacement of the force commander.”

The report from a UN special investigation found that a lack of leadership in the UN mission in South Sudan, known as UNMISS, culminated in a “chaotic and ineffective response” during the heavy fighting between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and those loyal to rebel leader Riek Machar in Juba on July 8-11 that killed dozens of people.

The special investigation, launched by the secretary-general and led by retired Major General Patrick Cammaert, found that “UNMISS did not respond effectively to the violence due to an overall lack of leadership, preparedness and integration among the various components of the mission.” “Command and control arrangements were inadequate, while peacekeepers maintained a risk-averse posture,” Dujarric said in a statement.

“These factors contributed to the failure of UNMISS to respond to the attack by government soldiers on the Terrain camp on July 11 and protect civilians under threat,” the spokesman said.

The special investigation was unable to verify allegations that the peacekeepers failed to respond to acts of sexual violence committed directly in front of them on July 17 and Juy 18, the spokesman said.

The secretary-general has studied the recommendations made by the special investigation, and “will ensure that necessary steps are taken to enable UNMISS to protect civilians more effectively.”

More than 70 people were killed in three days of fighting, the report said, and 182 buildings in the UN headquarters, which housed more than 27,000 displaced people, were struck by bullets, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.

South Sudan, which won independence on July 9, 2011 from Sudan, plunged into conflict in December 2013 after President Salva Kiir accused his deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup, which led to a cycle of retaliatory killings.

 

Xinhua/Zainab Sa’id