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08:07 14 January 2017

S. Sudan's peacekeeping mission facing "worst situation": Power

NEW YORK, Jan. 13, Kyodo

The departing U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said Friday the U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Sudan is operating under the "worst situation" she has seen.

"The untold story about the disaster of South Sudan is that U.N. peacekeepers in order to go and rescue civilians have to request permission. It is unbelievable," Samantha Power told reporters. "It is the worst situation for a peacekeeping mission that I've ever encountered with my own eyes."

Power made the comments when asked whether the incoming U.S. administration was likely to keep up pressure to resolve the ongoing crisis that the United Nations is concerned could become genocide.

At her final press conference before leaving office next week, she said the peacekeepers' mandate could not be fulfilled if they "have to ask permission of the same people that are doing the raping and the killing to be able to move," adding that it was "nonsensical."

Power said she believes that the new administration under President-elect Donald Trump to be inaugurated on Jan. 20 will continue keeping up the pressure and placing South Sudan high on the agenda.

"I believe that in our country, we have such deep ties to the South Sudanese people," she said. "There is strong (Capitol) Hill interest and has been over many generations."

She also praised new U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres for placing high priority on the issue in his first few days in office.

"I appreciate the new secretary general's energy and initiative on this matter," she noted, adding that he is keeping in close contact with African Union officials and key regional players.

In December, the United States strongly pushed Japan and other countries on the 15-member Security Council to adopt a resolution to impose an arms embargo on the conflict-ridden country. But it failed to pass with eight countries including Japan abstaining.

South Sudan has been mired in unrest after rivalry between South Sudan's President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and his now-exiled former deputy Riek Machar, an ethnic Nuer, led to a civil war in 2013.

Tensions fell along ethnic lines, pitting the Dinkas against the Nuers. Although a shaky peace agreement was brokered, renewed fighting broke out again in July, once again raising global alarm.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, known as UNMISS, has been operating since the formation of the world's newest country in 2011. It includes a 350-strong troop contingent from Japan.

Trump has appointed South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to replace Power, with her confirmation hearing slated to take place next week.

==Kyodo

  • S. Sudan's peacekeeping mission facing "worst situation": Power
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