JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN: Less than three years after its creation, the world’s newest country is beginning to fracture along ethnic lines in violence that has killed hundreds of people, including three U.N. peacekeepers. What could come next, some warn, is ethnic cleansing.
South Sudan’s numerous ethnic groups have battled each other for decades, but for years their animosity was united in hatred of the government in Khartoum, Sudan, the country’s former capital. When the south gained independence in 2011, the groups’ common enemy receded, exposing the fault lines — this week, even among the presidential guard.
On Thursday, armed youths breached a U.N. compound in Jonglei state, causing an unknown number of casualties.
“Unfortunately, just this very morning such militia groups have targeted and killed three soldiers from India in South Sudan,” India’s U.N. Ambassador Asoke Mukerji told a U.N. meeting on peacekeeping Thursday evening.
It was the first announcement of U.N. personnel killed in this week’s upsurge of violence. Pakistan’s U.N. Ambassador Masood Khan asked for a minute of silence, and diplomats rose to pay tribute to the fallen soldiers.
In the capital, Juba, emergency flights took away American and British citizens, aid workers and United Nations personnel to escape the violence.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon again urged political dialogue.