Ungentlemanly peacekeepers: woman raped right in front of Nepalese and Chinese soldiers

A Nepalese soldier on UN deputation in South Sudan talks to his fellow peacekeepers / Picture: UNMISS

29 July 2015: Nepalese and Chinese soldiers serving as UN peacekeepers in South Sudan have been accused of failing to protect a local woman who was allegedly raped by government soldiers right under their nose.

There have been reports of dozens of other similar cases that apparently took place within ‘few hundred metres’ of the United Nations camp in Juba, the capital city of South Sudan. Amid renewed fighting, some thirty thousand helpless women and girls are said to be taking shelter near the UN camp in Juba hoping for safety.

An AP report recently quoted an eye witness who said at least thirty Nepalese and Chinese soldiers could clearly see the crime unfolding in front of them, “They were seeing it. Everyone was seeing it.”

The incident occurred, the report claimed, on July 17 when two uniformed and armed South Sudanese government soldiers dragged away the victim, just few hundred metres from the western gate of the UN camp. The Nepalese and Chinese “armed peacekeepers on foot, in an armored vehicle and in a watchtower” saw the violent sexual assault unfold but failed to intervene.

The mandate of United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) clearly requires them to protect locals who are “under threat of physical violence, irrespective of the source of such violence, within its capacity and areas of deployment, with specific protection for women and children, including through the continued use of the Mission’s child protection and women’s protection advisers.”

Based on this mandate which is easily accessible on the UN website, the Nepalese and Chinese men appear to have clearly failed both their mandate (the very reason why they were there in the first place) and the expectation of the victim who no doubt was there hoping for a foolproof protection from the blue helmets.

Shantal Persaud, a spokesperson for the UNMISS, told npr.org that her office takes allegations of “peacekeepers not rendering aid to civilians in distress” very seriously and that “the UNMISS force command is looking into these allegations in line with its established protocols.”

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