Washington, DC - The United States is deeply concerned by the confirmed reports that the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in-Opposition (SPLA/IO) forces on October 26 detained a UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) barge that was traveling on the Nile River to resupply the UN base in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state.
We call on the SPLA/IO to immediately release all support staff who remain in detention and to return any seized equipment. Attacks against peacekeepers and other UN staff could constitute war crimes and can lead to sanctions under UN Security Resolution 2206.
We are additionally troubled by the provocative nature of this action at a time when both government and opposition forces should be respecting the ceasefire and working jointly to implement the peace agreement. More generally, we are deeply concerned by reports of fighting by both the opposition and the government in the state of Unity, where the humanitarian crisis has worsened in recent months with some 30,000 people in the State facing catastrophic levels of food insecurity and the likelihood of famine occurring in South Sudan if urgent assistance is not provided.
We call on both sides to adhere immediately to the ceasefire and to allow for free and unfettered access by UN and humanitarian personnel, so that they are able to reach populations in need.