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UN says peacekeepers denied access to Pajok

Author : | Published: Thursday, April 6, 2017

The UN says its peacekeepers have been prevented from accessing Pajok in Imatong State, where clashes were reported this week between the SPLA and an anti-government group.

But the SPLA says it has not prevented any one from accessing the area.

In a media briefing in New York, the UN says its mission in South Sudan was trying to follow up reports that civilians were killed in the fighting, but were denied access by the SPLA.

“Our colleagues at the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) report that UN peacekeepers have been prevented twice, in as many days, from accessing Pajok in Eastern Equatoria by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army,” Eri Kaneko, the Associate Spokesperson of the Secretary General, referring to the former state from where Imatong was created.

“This morning, the UN Mission’s patrol was stopped at a checkpoint seven kilometres outside Torit and was prevented from proceeding further. The patrol remains at the checkpoint and is continuing to negotiate access,” Mr Eri said in the media briefing yesterday.

“UNMISS is concerned by these reports and calls on the government to immediately allow the Mission access to Pajok, as obligated by the Status of Forces Agreement, so it can fully implement its mandate, including to protect civilians and report on human rights violations,” he said.

In response, the deputy military spokesman, Colonel Santo Domic, told Eye Radio that the UNMISS does not even need to take permission from the SPLA.

“It is not true. First of all, UNMISS does not take permission from us. UNMISS does not take permission from the SPLA. UNMISS only collaborates and informs the SPLA that it is moving from one point to another,” Col. Domic told Eye Radio this afternoon.

“The SPLA has not prevented access to anybody …The situation is under control since the day before yesterday up to now,” he said.

Eighteen people, including a woman, were killed in the fighting and some displaced to Uganda, according to Col. Domic. But local officials have declined to speak about the incident.

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