According to comments made by two unnamed military officials on Monday, approximately 150 U.S. Marines will soon be sent to South Sudan. The troops will provide additional security for the U.S. Embassy in Juba and help evacuate Americans following an eruption of violence in the world’s newest nation. Soldiers will also be sent to neighboring states to ensure the safety of American missions and displaced citizens.
Monday’s announcement comes after three American Osprey CV-22 were attacked after trying to evacuate U.S. citizens from the central city of Bor. During the incident gunfire injured four U.S. troops as they approached a UN base where the Americans had gathered for protection. A subsequent government mission successfully removed all Americans from Bor without further incident.
On Sunday, December 22, the United Nations relocates noncritical staff from Juba to Entebbe, Uganda. (Photo: AP)
Fighting broke out in South Sudan on December 15th after a coup attempt against the President Salva Kiir. The country’s military then split along ethnic and political lines, with many ethnic Dinka adhering to President Kiir and ethnic Neur following former Vice President Riek Machar. Rebels lead by Machar, the alleged coup leader, quickly consolidated power in much of the country. Most notably, the central government no longer controls the northern regional capital of Bentiu. With an important oil pipeline from neighboring Sudan terminating at the city, the rebels may have targeted oil rich areas.
The recent conflict will likely deepen the plight of civilians in one of the world’s poorest countries. The UN estimates that 100,000 people have likely been displaced with over 15,000 sheltering in the UN facility at Bor. More than 1,000 people are thought to have perished in the violence but statistics could be unreliable according to international officials. As a result, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon asked on Monday for 5,500 more peacekeepers, almost doubling the force already in the country. The additional force would most likely come from UN troops already deployed to other missions in Africa.