The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) [official website] announced [UN News Centre report] Sunday that it has begun relocating all non-critical staff from Juba, the capital city, amid the escalating violence between military factions in South Sudan. UNMISS is moving its staff from Juba to Entebbe, Uganda, as a precautionary measure to reduce pressure on its limited sources. Special Representative for South Sudan and head of UNMISS Hilde Johnson made clear that UNMISS is not abandoning the country and it will continue to work with and for the people of South Sudan. In an effort to continue fulfilling its mandate to protect South Sudanese citizens, UNMISS plans to reinforce its military presence in the cities of Bor and Pariang. This decision comes three days after a UNMISS base in Akobo was attacked by 2,000 assailants, killing 20 Dinka ethnic civilians dead and two UN peacekeepers. In a press conference in Manila, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged all political, military and militia leaders in South Sudan to end the violence against civilians.
South Sudan has repeatedly been criticized for its human rights abuses since becoming an independent nation. In April UNMISS issued a report [JURIST report] calling on the government of South Sudan to protect communities that are at risk of violence. The report detailed the findings of a human rights investigation into the killings of 85 cattle herders in South Sudan's Jonglei state, a majority of whom were women and children. Last November UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website] urged South Sudan to reverse an expulsion order [JURIST report] against a UNMISS staff member, claiming the government has given no good reason to support the order. Earlier in November Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] sent a letter [JURIST report] to a government official urging the country to abolish the death penalty and stating that its executions do not even meet the minimum international standards provided by law. After a visit to the country in May, Pillay noted concerns [JURIST report] with the country's detention procedures, impunity among security forces, discrimination against women and minorities and capital punishment practices. Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] also criticized [JURIST report] the country's government in February 2012 for its failure to timely prosecute those responsible for an attack on ethnic minorities that killed thousands. South Sudan is still a new country, only officially being recognized as an independent nation [JURIST report] in 2011.