July 13 (Bloomberg) -- United Nations peacekeepers in South Sudan will have a stronger mandate to protect civilians than before the oil-rich south’s independence on July 9, said the head of the mission, Hilde F. Johnson.
Johnson, a former Norwegian international development minister, said the mission will have a Chapter 7 mandate, which gives peacekeepers the authority to take action when civilians are under imminent threat. The previous force, the UN Mission in Sudan, was deployed under a Chapter 6 mandate.
The mission of 7,000 soldiers and 900 police was approved by the Security Council on July 8.
This year has been the most violent in South Sudan since the end of a two-decade civil war in 2005, with 2,368 civilians dying in rebel attacks and ethnic violence, including cattle raids, compared with 940 last year, according to the UN. As many as nine militia groups operate mainly along the border with the north.
The new UN force won’t be able to intervene in the northern border state of Southern Kordofan, where clashes between Sudanese government forces and troops loyal to South Sudan’s army have forced more than 73,000 people to flee their homes since June 5, according to the UN.
Aerial bombardment and gunfire were reported in several parts of Sudan’s only oil-producing state from July 6 to July 11, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said yesterday.
A separate UN-backed force of 4,200 Ethiopian troops is being sent to the disputed border region of Abyei. The Sudanese army seized the main town in the area on May 21, driving more than 100,000 people from their homes, according to the UN.
--With assistance from Maram Mazen in Khartoum. Editors: Karl Maier, Phil Sanders
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