New York/Juba, December 19, 2016 (SSNA) — The United Nations (UN) has clarified a recent leaked report that it has supplied South Sudanese rebels with weapons in Unity States after the civil war broke out in December 2013.
On Thursday, The Small Arms Survey, a Geneva-based research group, released a report, saying UN gave weapons to General Koang Chuol Ranley just weeks after fighting erupted. The report, however, didn’t say whether or not weapons given to Gen. Koang were uses in the conflict.
Today at a news conference at the UN headquarters in New York, Mr. Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) opened its doors to save lives when the war broke out and the mission take appropriate measures to disarm and collect weapons and ammunition from those who seek its protection.
“When UNMISS opened its gates to save lives as the conflict erupted, it applied utmost diligence to disarm and collect weapons and ammunition from people seeking protection. The Mission worked tirelessly and impartially to save thousands who sought refuge in its camps and PoC sites in the town and avoid an escalation of violence with the forces controlling the area,” Dujarric told reporters.
Dujarric said weapons given to General Koang were actually belong to SPLA soldiers in the area who gave-up their weapons and thought UNMISS protection, adding that only a limited number of weapons were returned after the mission received threats from General Koang.
“In response to direct threats from the local SPLA commander to UNMISS to hand over weapons abandoned by the soldiers, UNMISS facilitated the transfer of a limited number of weapons to Maj-General James Koang, who commanded the SPLA 4th Division in Bentiu at that time. Later in that month he officially defected to the, then, newly-established SPLM–in Opposition,” he explained.
Gen. Koang was the commander of the Unity State-based fourth division. He joined the rebellion on or about December 21, 2013.
The UN official explains that anyone who was armed and seeking for protection was not allowed to enter any UN compound and reveals that some SPLA soldiers were able to abandon their weapons outside UNMISS compound in early stages of the war and were allowed to enter the complex.
He added that “UNMISS collected the abandoned weapons and safely stored them according to its weapons management policy.” Dujarric later disclosed that UNMISS carried out several destructions of weapons and ammunition that pose risks to civilians and UN personnel.