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UN SC condemns Russian pilots’ death in S Sudan, extends UNMISS mandate

July 12, 2013, 7:05 UTC+3

Their Mi-8 helicopter was erroneously shot down by the Sudanese military in December 2012

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UNTED NATIONS, July 12 (Itar-Tass) - The U.N. Security Council on Thursday, July 11, passed this year’s second resolution calling for prosecuting those responsible for the death of four Russian pilots in South Sudan.

Their Mi-8 helicopter was erroneously shot down by the Sudanese military in December 2012.

Adopted unanimously, the resolution focuses on the complex situation in South Sudan and extends the U.N. peacekeeping mission (UNMISS) in that country for one more year until July 15, 2014.

It urges the country’s authorities to ensure security and unrestricted freedom of movement of U.N. personnel.

The resolution “strongly condemns all attacks on UNMISS troops and staff including the December 2012 downing of a United Nations helicopter by the SPLA, and calls for prompt and thorough investigation of these attacks, and demands that there be no recurrence of such attacks or impunity for the perpetrators.”

The Mi-8 helicopter belonging to the Russian airline Nizhnevartovskavia, which was operating under contract with the U.N. Mission, was downed in December of last year in the State of Jonglei. A search and rescue team dispatched to the scene of the accident confirmed the death of the helicopter’s four Russian crewmembers.

The South Sudan authorities officially admitted that the helicopter had been shot down by mistake but have been dragging their feet on the investigation.

The U.N. Security Council authorised U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to take the necessary steps in order to ensure inter-mission cooperation, and authorised, within the overall troop ceiling set out at paragraph 1 of Resolution 1996 (2011), appropriate transfers of troops, force enablers and multipliers from other missions, subject to the agreement of the troop-contributing countries and without prejudice to the performance of the mandates of these United Nations missions.

The Security Council welcomed Ban’s intention that “UNMISS will geographically reconfigure its military and asset deployment so as to focus on volatile high-risk areas and associated protection requirements.”

In his recent report on South Sudan, Ban wrote that while UNMISS continues to focus on the protection of civilians as one of its core tasks, the primary responsibility for the protection of civilians in South Sudan lies with the Government.

“A peacekeeping mission, however configured, cannot replace the Government, which is also responsible for ensuring the safety and security, and freedom of movement, of United Nations personnel and assets deployed to assist it in this regard,” he stated.

Ban reiterated his condemnation of violence against U.N. personnel in South Sudan and recalled the requirement for the Government to hold the perpetrators of those attacks accountable, irrespective of who the perpetrators are.

UNMISS was established in 2011 after South Sudan had proclaimed independence. Its objective is to consolidate peace and security, and help establish conditions for development in the Republic of South Sudan, with a view to strengthening the capacity of the Government of South Sudan to govern effectively and democratically and establish good relations with its neighbours.

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