UNMISS calls for release of barge crew held in Upper Nile
UNMISS had extracted 18 peacekeepers who were detained by heavily armed men affiliated to the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) - In Opposition in Upper Nile State, Mission Spokesperson Ariane Quentier said in Juba today.
“However we were very unfortunate and very sad and concerned that the SPLA - In Opposition did not allow UNMISS to take with the national crew – 12 men – as well as the barge and equipment,” she said.
The barge was ferrying fuel supplies on the River Nile, North of Malakal when it was intercepted in Kaka on Monday, Ms. Quentier said in an interview with Radio Miraya.
“They stopped the barge, took the UNMISS peacekeepers who were on the barge, took the crew and looted the fuel,” she said. “This lasted for about three days then yesterday we were happy to be able to extract by helicopter 18 of the UNMISS staff.”
However, the mission was very concerned about the 12 crew members and would continue to demand their release, Ms. Quentier said.
“This is not a finished issue because we have this concern about the national crew,” she said. “We are calling on Riek Machar to take his responsibility as the leader of the SPLM - In Opposition. He must uphold his commitment. We are demanding and insisting that the UNMISS national contractors and national staff … be released immediately, unharmed and unhurt.”
The UNMISS spokesperson reiterated that any attack against peacekeepers or any other UN staff may constitute a war crime where by the perpetrators could be brought eventually to the International Criminal Court.