The United Nations removed hundreds of fighters loyal to former South Sudan Vice President Riek Machar from a game reserve in Democratic Republic of Congo.
The UN peacekeeping mission, known as Monusco, extracted 752 “armed elements and civilians affiliated with the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition” from Garamba National Park at the request of Congo’s government, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in an e-mailed statement Thursday. Machar, his wife and son were among those moved out of the reserve, he said.
“The mission also reiterates that its operations were conducted on humanitarian grounds and within the role of contributing to stability in the DRC,” Dujarric said. “At all times, the UN has informed the authorities of South Sudan and of DRC of Monusco’s actions on the ground.”
Resurgent violence in July killed hundreds of people in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, worsening a conflict that began in December 2013 and left tens of thousands of people dead, while uprooting 2 million from their homes. The UN Security Council in August approved 4,000 extra regional peacekeeping troops for the nation with the third-biggest crude reserves on the continent.
Garamba National Park was previously home to the world’s last known wild population of the Northern White Rhinoceros. The sub-species is probably extinct because of poaching and conflict, according to the Save The Rhino campaign.