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Conflict

UN boosts South Sudan mandate with 'upgrade'

After tough negotiations, the UN has extended a peacekeeping mandate in the world's youngest nation. Despite criticism from Russia and China, the resolution has provided tools to prevent escalations, including sanctions.

The UN Security Council on Friday passed a draft resolution effectively bolstering the peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, the world's youngest nation.

The mission will include a new regional force of 4,000 troops, which the council approved in August but which has yet to manifest itself. The new force will support approximately 13,000 peacekeepers that have been deployed to the country, according to the resolution.

The resolution also threatens sanctions against those who undermine stability, warning that the council will take "appropriate measures."

The US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, described the measure as an "upgrade" of the current mission, which has been criticized for failing to protect civilians since the conflict erupted in 2013.

'Kill, rape and displace'

Ahead of the UN vote, human rights organizations called on the UN to do more to protect civilians, citing reports of government soldiers raping women near peacekeeping compounds.

"Despite the August 2015 peace agreement, the warring parties continue to kill, rape and displace communities with impunity. Many of these acts constitute war crimes. They may amount to crimes against humanity," New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a statement.

However, South Sudan's ambassador to the UN, Joseph Mourn Majak Ngor Malok, said Juba was disappointed that its concerns had not been highlighted, adding that the new mandate was nonetheless welcomed.

"The government of South Sudan continues to oppose the negative threats of sanctions and punishment, which can only undermine cooperation," said Malok.

After gaining independence from neighboring Sudan in 2011, South Sudan descended into ethnic conflict when forces loyal to President Salva Kiir attacked those loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar in 2013. Tens of thousands have been killed and nearly 3 million people displaced due to the conflict.

ls/rc (AP, AFP)

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