Voice of America has this report on the fallout of UN peacekeeping deficiencies that led to a massacre earlier this year in South Sudan:
The spokesman for the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations said the U.N. has accepted responsibility for its lack of swift response during the February massacre of internally displaced persons in the South Sudanese city of Malakal.
The U.N.’s Nick Birnback said some peacekeepers did not respond in time to protect civilians who were attacked by gunmen Feb. 17 and 18 at the U.N. Protection of Civilian (POC) compound. At the time, the U.N. had contingents from Rwanda, Ethiopia and India in Malakal. Thirty people were killed, and 123 others were wounded in the attacks.
“In the process of an inquiry, we looked at the systems that were in place and how those systems could be strengthened, but we also looked at individual unit responsibility. The U.N. peacekeeping is currently engaging directly with the concerned troop-contributing countries to address the underperformance of certain UNMISS (United Nation Mission in South Sudan) personnel, and that includes training and preparedness.”
Birnback said the U.N. Peacekeeping Department will repatriate some peacekeepers and their commanders who were on duty during the attack. Birnback confirmed that the U.N. Peacekeeping Department has been investigating the Malakal attack in South Sudan in order to prevent it from happening again in future peacekeeping operations.
“There will be action taken, whether [against] individual units as a whole or those in command of certain units.”
Birnback said the U.N. has been reviewing its posture and stepping up measures to improve safety in what he terms “a very challenging environment.” Birnback pointed out that responsibility also rests with those who carried out the attack. He added the U.N. will send back those peacekeepers and commanders who did not respond appropriately during the attack.
“We work with our troop-contributing countries. We need them. We thank them for their service. But when something happens that involves a unit not responding in a way that it needed to, it’s logical that both us and the troop-contributing country in question will take whatever action is necessary to make sure that does not happen again, and that does include repatriation of individual units when appropriate and repatriation of commanders who did not live up to their responsibility.”What actual steps are taken in light of this incident will be instructive as to the viability of the current arrangements for UN peacekeeper discipline and accountability. So far, the UN gets a D.