South Sudan Says It’s Seeking More Details on Peacekeepers

  • UN approved plan to send 4,000 more troops to African country
  • Violence escalated in July, throwing peace deal into turmoil

South Sudan wants talks with the international community over a United Nations resolution to send 4,000 more peacekeepers to its capital, Juba, that will have additional powers to protect UN facilities and the civilian population.

The Security Council approved on Aug. 12 deployment of the additional troops from Africa, which will raise the total number of peacekeepers to about 17,000. The UN Mission in South Sudan has been criticized for failing to protect civilians at refugee camps by groups including Doctors Without Borders.

“The government is seeking more engagement with the international community in order to get the details of the plan,” the president’s spokesman, Ateny Wek Ateny, said in a text message. “Then the government is going to sit in order to come with a position.”

The UN has said should South Sudan obstruct the regional force, the Security Council would consider an arms embargo. Fighting that flared last month in Juba has thrown into turmoil a peace deal seeking to end the African nation’s conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

President Salva Kiir formed a transitional government with ex-rebel leader Riek Machar in April to stop the fighting that’s also forced 2 million people from their homes since late 2013. In early July, fighting broke out again and Kiir’s troops drove out Machar and his forces from Juba. Hundreds died in the fighting, which the UN said involved targeted ethnic killings and rapes mostly by soldiers loyal to Kiir. Machar has said he will only return to the capital if regional forces are deployed.

South Sudan has sub-Saharan Africa’s third-biggest oil reserves, but is pumping as little as 120,000 barrels per day because of the conflict, which has left Upper Nile the only state still producing crude.

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