Attack on UN South Sudan base is “callous”

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Unknown assailants attacked a UN operating base in northern South Sudan showing “callous disregard” for civilians and aid workers the head of the UN mission said.

The assault in Leer, in an oil-producing region, was repelled by Ghanaian peacekeepers. No injuries were reported.

The assailants’ identity was not clear. David Shearer, head of the UN mission, said the attack from Wednesday into Thursday was launched from the direction of a nearby government-held town.
“We call on all parties to the conflict to respect the sanctity of UN premises,” Shearer said in a statement.
“We are here to protect and support the people of South Sudan,” he added. “It is clear the attackers have no consideration for their plight, given those who most desperately need help will suffer more because of a likely resulting delay of humanitarian aid.”

Government officials were not immediately available for comment.

South Sudan’s main rebel force, SPLA-IO, denied any involvement.
“UNMISS is protecting our civilians in government areas while we protect the ones in the liberated areas. Therefore, we can’t attack their base in any way,” deputy SPLA-IO spokesperson Lam Paul Gabriel said.

Separately on Thursday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called on the Juba government to halt offensives towards Aburoc in the northern Upper Nile region where between 35,000 and 50,000 people have sought refuge.
“Civilians in Aburoc are at serious and imminent risk of gross human rights violations, inter-ethnic violence and re-displacement,” Zeid said in a statement.
“Civilians in Aburoc have nowhere left to go, with the army closing in from the south and options to flee north limited and fraught with danger,” Zeid said.