UN authorizes the deployment of a 4,000-strong protection force in South Sudan 0

The United Nations Security Council has authorized the deployment of a 4,000-strong protection force to the conflict-hit South Sudan despite Juba’s strong opposition to the move. On Friday, the Security Council approved the US-drafted resolution with 11 votes in favor, while Russia, China, Egypt and Venezuela abstained, granting extended powers to the peacekeepers present in the African country and authorizing them to exert “all necessary means” to protect UN personnel and installations there.

There will be a total of 17,500 soldiers in South Sudan after the new deployment from a number of African nations. The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has been under fire during the past few weeks both for its inability to fully protect civilians when UN sites came under attack in the capital Juba last month, and for allegedly failing to intervene in cases that government forces reportedly committed sexual assaults outside UN camps in the city.

South Sudan has witnessed a new wave of conflict since early July, when gunfire erupted near the state house in Juba, where President Salva Kiir and then Vice President Riek Machar were meeting. The gunfire turned into a much heavier fighting, which involved tanks and helicopters, between the two sides during the next several days. More than 300 people were killed in the clashes. The UN resolution also calls for an arms embargo on South Sudan if the government blocks the regional force.