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SPLA reacts to Wau Shilluk access restriction claims

Aftermath of recent clashes in Wau Shilluk now reported to be deserted |Photo credit |MSF

The army blocked UN peacekeepers from entering Wau Shilluk area this week due to insecurity and lack of “prior notification” to the military, the SPLA spokesperson has said.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, David Shearer, accused the army of barring peacekeepers from entering the area.

They were trying to access some 20,000 civilians, the missions believed could have been trapped in the recent clashes between government forces and those of Gen Johnson Olony.

Mr Shearer described the situation as “very frustrating”.

In response, the army spokesperson, Brig General Lul confirmed the incident. But he says the peacekeepers did not notify the army.

“The provision says that whenever they want to go for patrol they have to give us a notification. That was not done. It was a violation of our Rules of Engagement,” Brig Ruai told Eye Radio.

The army, Brig Ruai continued, was taking precautionary measures for the safety of the peacekeepers because security in the area was tensed.

“Secondly, the area was still volatile security-wise.  The enemy was not very far from Wau Shilluk. So they were advised to keep away from the area for their own safety,” he said.

Aid organizations, including IOM and MSF, had reported fighting in Wau Shilluk in Central Upper Nile early this month.