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South Sudan refugees under heavy protection of Indian peacekeepers

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Photo: http://shethepeople.tv

United Nations: Indian peacekeepers are “taking robust measures to protect South Sudan refugees sheltered in a massive camp where 18 people have been killed and scores injured this week in fighting between ethnic groups — which has come under attack from the South Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), according to a source monitoring the situation from here.

The fighting started Wednesday between young people belonging to the Shilluk and Dinka tribes in the Malakal camp in South Sudan and SPLA members fired into the camp and also entered it attacking civilians, the Security Council said Friday in a press statement.

At that point, the source at the UN told IANS, “the Indian troops went in and even fired with their APCs (armored personnel carriers) and other things to get the situation under control.”

The SPLA, “although they would deny it, fired into the camp from the outside also” and the Indian peacekeepers “took robust measures externally to prevent any SPLA soldiers from harming these people and getting the situation under control,” the source added.

The internal security of the camp is the responsibility of the UN police forces, while the external protection is of the troops. The troops back up the police inside in emergencies.

The source said that SPLA members were able to get inside the camp as civilians “because they are Dinkas they can wear civvies.” It was also possible for them to bring in weapons through the Dinkas who live inside the camp and can go in and out, the source added.

There were no casualties among the peacekeepers, the source said. Out of the 2,273 Indian peacekeepers in the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) about 550 are stationed in Malakal. Rwandan peacekeepers are also based there and operate alongside Indians.

Medecins Sans Frontiers, the Switzerland-headquartered international medical charity, said two of those killed were its staff members.

Amid rising tensions in South Sudan, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is scheduled to visit it next week, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric announced Friday. He added that Ban condemned the latest round of violence and expressed concern over “the rising inter-communal tensions between the Dinka and Shilluk which precipitated this incident.” (Arul Louis, IANS)

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UNHRC Chief Michele Bachelet: India’s Lockdown Has Implementation Challenges

UN Human Rights chief criticises India's quarantine measures

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Michele Bachelet
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michele Bachelet, on Thursday criticised the quarantine measures put in place in the country, saying they stigmatise people. IANS

BY ARUL LOUIS

While India is fighting to stop the spread of Covid-19, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michele Bachelet, on Thursday criticised the quarantine measures put in place in the country, saying they stigmatise people.

She “expressed regret at the measures that have the effect of stigmatising sections of society, including migrants, such as the practice in some states of stamping hands of those quarantined in their homes, reportedly to ensure that they stay home, and sticking notices outside the homes of people quarantined,” the statement said.

She added, “It is important to weigh such measures against the right to privacy and avoid measures that would unduly stigmatise people within the community, who may already be vulnerable due to their social status or other factors.” She has been silent on other places which use electronic monitoring of those under quarantine. Bachelet also had strong criticism for the impact of the lockdown on migrant workers.

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“She was distressed by the plight of millions of internal migrants affected by the sudden announcement of a lockdown,” according to a statement released by her office in Geneva.

The statement said, “Without the ability to sustain themselves in urban centres and in light of the almost complete shutdown of public transportation, hundreds of thousands of migrant men, women and children were forced to walk hundreds of kilometres trying to reach their villages and home states. Some have died making the journey.”

Michele Bachelet
Michele Bachelet had strong criticism for the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on migrant workers. Pixabay

“Supreme Court of India’s subsequent instruction on March 31 to ensure that migrants are provided enough food, water, beds and supplies as well as psychosocial counselling in shelters that should be run by volunteers instead of security forces, and that they should be treated in a humane manner,” the statement said.

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It quoted her as saying, “The Supreme Court’s order and its implementation will go a long way to ensuring the safety and rights of these vulnerable migrants. Many of these people’s lives have been suddenly uprooted by the lockdown, placing them in very precarious situations.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ spokesperson Stephane Dujarric highlighted Bachelet’s statement at his daily briefing on Thursday.

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Bachelet, however, acknowledged, that

“the lockdown in India represents a massive logistical and implementation challenge given the population size and its density and we all hope the spread of the virus can be checked.”

She added, “It is nonetheless important to ensure that measures in response to Covid-19 are neither applied in a discriminatory manner nor exacerbate existing inequalities and vulnerabilities.” (IANS)