UNITED NATION -- The UN has appointed Major-General (retired) Patrick Cammaert of the Netherlands to lead an independent special investigation into the violence in South Sudan's capital, Juba, in July 2016, and the response of the UN mission in the country (UNMISS).

According to a UN statement, the investigation will review reports of incidents of attacks on civilians and cases of sexual violence that occurred within or in the vicinity of the UN House Protection of Civilians (PoC) sites in the South Sudanese capital, Juba.

It stated: "The investigation will also determine the actions of UNMISS and whether the mission responded appropriately to prevent these incidents and protect civilians within its resources and capabilities at the time."

"In addition, the investigation will review the circumstances surrounding the attack on the Terrain Hotel and assess the Mission's response," it said.

The statement noted that the special investigation team will also undertake a field visit to Juba to conduct interviews with the relevant interlocutors.

A final report of the probe will be presented to the UN chief within one month, and the findings which will be made public, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.

Major-General (retired) Cammaert had a distinguished military career in both the Netherlands with the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps and the UN. He was Force Commander of the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), Military Adviser at the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, and General Officer Commanding the Eastern Division in the UN Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC).

Recently, he led a UN headquarters Board of Inquiry on the circumstances of the clashes that occurred in the UNMISS PoC site in Malakal, South Sudan, on Feb 17-18, 2016.

On Aug 17, alarmed by preliminary findings on the July 11 attack on Hotel Terrain in Juba, in which one person was killed and several civilians raped and beaten by men in uniform, the UN chief ordered an independent investigation to examine the incident and other developments, and evaluate the overall response by UNMISS.

The incidents occurred during a spate of recent clashes between rival forces - the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) loyal to South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and the SPLA in Opposition (SPLA-IO) backing then First Vice-President Riek Machar, which broke out in and around Juba, on July 7, on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the country's independence.

UN compounds and UNMISS-managed civilian protection sites were also attacked during the fighting.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Al Hussein, a preliminary UN investigation into the violence and its aftermath revealed that South Sudanese government security forces carried out killings and rapes, and looted and destroyed properties.

The world youngest country has faced ongoing challenges since a political face-off between the two leaders erupted into full blown conflict in December 2013.

The crisis has produced one of the world's worst displacement situations with immense suffering for civilians.

Despite the August 2015 peace agreement that formally ended the war, conflict and instability have also spread to previously unaffected areas in the Greater Equatoria and Greater Bahr-El-Ghazal regions of South Sudan.

In July, deadly clashes in once-stable Wau resulted in the deaths of more than 40 people, while up to 35,000 fled their homes.

Source: Nam News Network

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