India's Permanent Representative to the UN Asoke Mukerji wrote a letter to President of the UN Security Council for the month, Nigerian Ambassador U Joy Ogwu, in which he voiced concern over the attack in an internally displaced persons camp in Bor where Indian peacekeepers were protecting nearly 5,000 civilians. (Agencies)
Two Indian peacekeepers were injured when a "well-armed" 200-300 strong mob forced its way into the facility and opened fire on the displaced persons sheltering inside.
"It is a matter of deep concern to my country that despite the clear call given by the UNSC resolution, neither have hostilities ceased and nor has any political dialogue progressed in South Sudan," Mukerji said in the letter dated April 17.
"The consequence of this is the increase in violent attacks, especially on civilians in South Sudan," he said.
Mukerji stressed that "troops contributed by member States, including India, to UNMISS cannot be expected to deal with the political causes for the hostilities and violence, resulting from the lack of political dialogue, in South Sudan."
He requested that India's concerns be brought to the attention of the UNSC members so that the Council can "give priority in its work to achieving a political agreement between the parties in South Sudan."
He noted that this in India's view is the "essential prerequisite to end the hostilities in South Sudan and protect the lives of innocent civilians in the country."
India is the single largest troop contributor to the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and in the last one year, seven Indian soldiers have been killed in attacks on UN bases.
The UN Security Council took note of India's concerns, seeking to address them when it issued a press statement on April 18 following the Bor attack calling for the perpetrators of the attack to be brought to justice.
Mukerji said South Sudan is on the agenda of the Security Council, which has given its mandate for UNMISS and passed a resolution in December last year calling for immediate cessation of hostilities and the immediate opening of a dialogue in South Sudan.
In the press statement, UNSC members called on the South Sudanese government to "immediately take steps to ensure the safety of all civilians and UNMISS Protection of Civilian sites in South Sudan, to swiftly investigate these incidents, and to bring the perpetrators of these egregious acts to justice."
The Council also called on the parties in South Sudan to allow UNMISS to fully implement its mandate.
"The members of the Security Council underscored their full support for UNMISS peacekeepers and commended the actions of the UNMISS contingents in Bor as they sought to fulfill their mandate to protect civilians.
They also called on all parties to refrain from actions or statements that could further escalate the situation," the press statement said.
Over 85,000 civilians are seeking protection in eight UNMISS bases in South Sudan, while more than 740,000 civilians are internally displaced in the world's youngest country.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had strongly condemned the attack in Bor, saying that the attack on a location where civilians are being protected by the United Nations is a "serious escalation".
A statement issued by Ban's spokesperson had said any attack on UN peacekeepers is "unacceptable and constitutes a war crime".
In response to a question by PTI about concerns over the safety of Indian peacekeepers, Ban's spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said yesterday that the UN is "very much indebted" to the countries who contribute troops to the peacekeeping mission in South Sudan.
"They have done valiant work in protecting tens of thousands of people who wouldn’t be alive if they weren’t doing their work," he said.
He added that the UN has repeatedly stressed that its premises need to be "respected, not only for the safety of UN personnel, but...more importantly for the safety of the tens of thousands of civilians who have sought out UN bases to seek refuge from the violence."
The UNSC members had through the press statement expressed "outrage" at the attacks, underscoring that attacks on civilians and UN peacekeepers may constitute a war crime.
India's Permanent Representative to the UN Asoke Mukerji wrote a letter to President of the UN Security Council for the month, Nigerian Ambassador U Joy Ogwu, in which he voiced concern over the attack in an internally displaced persons camp in Bor where Indian peacekeepers were protecting nearly 5,000 civilians.