The United Nations reported Tuesday that continued harassment of its staff in South Sudan is interfering with its ability to fulfill its mission.
The UN Mission in South Sudan "stressed that such threats, forcible searches of UN vehicles, flights and convoys, and movement constraints are in violation of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the UN and the Government of South Sudan, which establishes the rights and privileges of foreign personnel in a host country in support of a larger security arrangement," the UN News Center wrote Tuesday.
UNMISS has called on the government of South Sudan to permit freedom of movement to UN and humanitarian personnel so that UNMISS can fulfill its protection and assistance mandate.
On Tuesday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with South Sudanese officials in Brussels, Belgium on the sidelines of the EU-Africa Summit, where he "stressed the paramount importance of preventing incidents of harassment against UN personnel." He was heartened, his office said, that the South Sudanese delegates reported their government had reaffirmed "its commitment to working with the United Nations Mission in the country (UNMISS) and especially his Special Representative, Ms. Hilde Johnson."
Violence broke out in South Sudan on December 15, 2013, when President Salva Kiir accused his fired deputy, Riek Machar, of attempting a coup. Fighting between forces loyal to the two men has continued since December, with the political dispute devolving into an ethnic conflict. The UN estimates that more than 3.7 million people are at risk of severe food insecurity, disease, and malnutrition as an effect of the violence.