"We are deeply saddened by the new escalation of violence in South Sudan. A few days ago armed protestors forced their way into the UNMISS base in Bor, Jonglei State. They opened fire on the 5100 internally displaced persons, primarily women and children, who had been sheltering there. The Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) team on the ground courageously were able to directly protect five women and nine children in the sudden chaos of the attack. On three separate occasions men with guns approached the NP team who were sheltering together with the women and children in a tukul (mud hut). The men with guns demanded the NP team leave the women and children to be killed. The peacekeepers saved the lives of those women and children by refusing to leave them and repeatedly clarifying their role and identities as humanitarian workers. When the attack ended, the team then worked tirelessly into the night collecting the wounded, verifying deaths and working together with partner organizations to organize medical evacuations to Juba.
The NP team in Juba has been working together with health actors to receive the evacuation flights as they arrive in Juba and providing protection support for the most vulnerable. At the time of writing, the team in Juba is at the airstrip receiving a wounded one year old child whose mother was killed in the Bor attack. In Bentiu over the past several days, the Nonviolent Peaceforce team has been doing civilian extractions, whenever there is enough of a safety window to move out of the base. They move out to where civilians are reported to be in hiding and then they are collecting these civilians to bring them into the safety of the UNMISS base. The fighting in the area has been fierce, on an extraction mission to collect ten civilians, the NP team saw more than 100 bodies on the short journey from the base to the town.
NP call upon all parties to exercise restraint, to respect international humanitarian law and to adhere to the Cessation of Hostilities (CoH) agreement signed on January 23, 2014. Section 3 of the CoH provides detailed and specific language about the protection of civilians which was agreed upon by both parties."
Tiffany Easthom, Nonviolent Peaceforce Country Director in South Sudan.
Photo: Kids in wheelbarrows at UNMISS base a couple of weeks ago