UN mission in South Sudan rejects claim it failed to protect civilians

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UNMISS evacuation support in Bentiu, Unity State. Photo: UNMISS

The UN mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has rejected an accusation that it is partly responsible for human rights abuses that took place in the town of Bentiu.

The town was taken over last week by rebels who are trying to bring down the government.

A senior South Sudanese government official has claimed that civilians who tried to run into an UNMISS compound were prevented from entering.

The official said that the civilians were executed after UNMISS directed them to find shelter in churches, a mosque and the hospital in the town.

Jose Contreras is UNMISS Spokesperson.

"The United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in South Sudan rejects any effort to assign to the mission any responsibility for the human rights abuses that took place in Bentiu town. Any civilians who managed to reach our compound who were unarmed and had been facing an imminent threat of physical violence were granted entry and we sent our peacekeepers into Bentiu town, put them in harms way, and brought back large numbers of civilians to the safty and shelter of our facility." (29")

Mr Contreras said that some civilians who tried to head in the direction of the UNMISS compound were prevented by South Sudanese government troops assigned to a checkpoint.

About 22,000 civilians are currently sheltering in the UN base in Bentiu.

Daniel Dickinson, United Nations

Duration: 1'30"

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