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Indian peacekeeper injured in fresh firing in South Sudan

South Sudan

United Nations:  An Indian peacekeeper was injured in fresh firing in the troubled Malakal region in South Sudan, with the UN mission expressing concern over the incident and reiterating its call for parties to respect the sanctity of UN staff.

Sources here confirmed to PTI that the peacekeeper injured yesterday in the firing is an Indian though no further information was available about his identity. Sources said the peacekeeper is in stable condition after sustaining minor injuries after being hit by a bullet in the head.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters at the briefing that the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) reported fresh firing outside of its compound in Malakal, in which one peacekeeper was injured. He however said he did not have any further information about the nationality of the peacekeeper.

“The mission is deeply concerned that despite the reassurances given by both parties such an incident occurred and reiterates its strong call on all parties to respect the sanity of UN installations and staff,” Dujarric said.

When asked if the Secretary General aims to reinvigorate the peace process in the troubled nation and push for a political settlement to the conflict, Dujarric said the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) continues to be in the lead in the process.

“We are supportive of that process…the violence on a daily basis, the horrendous impact on access to food that we have been flagging and the fact that more than a hundred thousand people are being sheltered in UN civilians compounds shows the immediate need for both the president and the opposition to sit around the table and put their differences aside and  agree on a political settlement,” Dujarric said.

India is among the top contributor of troops to UNMISS.

Five Indian peacekeepers, including a Lieutenant Colonel, were killed in South Sudan in April 2013 when their UN convoy was ambushed by about 200 attackers near Jonglei State.

In 2014, two Indian peacekeepers were injured in another “deadly and unprovoked” attack by a mob of armed men on civilians sheltering inside a UN base in the war-ravaged town of Bor in South Sudan.

India has in the past also voiced concern that the Council has repeatedly “violated” and “diluted” the clear provisions of Article 44 of the UN Charter, which explicitly requires the 15-nation Council to invite member states who are contributing troops but are not members of the Council, to participate in the decisions on peacekeeping and troop deployment.

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