UN bemoans lack of copters in S Sudan
New York - The UN Security Council on Monday expressed "deep concern" at deadly unrest in South Sudan but bemoaned the lack of helicopters for UN peacekeepers helping the government control tensions.
The fears were raised by the 15-member Council as more deaths were reported in the battle between Lou Nuer and Murle tribes in South Sudan's Jonglei state. Hundreds have been killed in clashes between the two in recent months.
The Security Council "deplored the loss of life" in the clashes in Jonglei, said a statement released by South Africa's UN ambassador, Baso Sangqu, who is the Security Council president for January.
Raising fears over "the quantity and sophistication of weapons" used in the clashes, the council praised efforts by the UN mission in South Sudan, UNMISS, to ward off the conflict.
But it also "expressed concern with UNMISS’ shortfall of operational air transport assets, which seriously impacts its ability to carry out its mandate."
UN peacekeeping officials say they have a critical lack of helicopters in South Sudan, where there are only a few dozen kilometres of proper roads. The shortage has also hit other missions in Africa.
The council called on "all communities in Jonglei state immediately to end the cycle of conflict and engage in a reconciliatory peace process."
But it stressed that it was the "primary responsibility" of South Sudan's government to protect its population.
At least 24 people were killed in the latest clashes in Akobo East County of Jonglei, homeland areas of the Lou Nueur, officials said on Monday. Last week a Lou Nuer militia army marched on the Murle town of Pibor. The UN says that dozens, perhaps hundreds, were killed in that clash.