UN to Probe Response of Peacekeepers to South Sudan Hotel Attack

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced a special investigation into allegations the South Sudan peacekeeping mission didn’t properly respond to last month’s attack on a hotel by uniformed men who executed a journalist and raped civilians.

Ban’s spokesman said the UN mission has conducted an initial probe into the July 11 attack on Hotel Terrain in the capital, Juba, which occurred amid about five days of renewed fighting between soldiers loyal to President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar.

Ban is “concerned” by accusations peacekeepers didn’t react appropriately “to prevent this and other grave cases of sexual violence committed” in the city and “has decided to launch an independent special investigation to determine the circumstances surrounding these incidents and to evaluate the mission’s overall response,” according to the Tuesday statement.

Hundreds of people died in July’s violence, which the UN’s human-rights chief said involved killing, gang-rape and looting by government forces, including the apparent executions of civilians based on their ethnicity. The civil war that began in South Sudan in December 2013 had already claimed tens of thousands of people lives and forced more than 2 million people to flee their homes.

South Sudan’s army spokesman, Lul Ruai Koang, has said the military takes accusations of sexual violence “very seriously.” The UN rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said earlier this month that, while the government says it has established courts to try soldiers, “violations continue unabated.”

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