Clashes erupt at Juba airport as Ethiopian Tigrayan peacekeepers are forced to return home

Ethiopia Tigray

(Source: Sudan Post) – 

Forced return to Ethiopia where most peacekeepers fears government brutality was met with resistance sparking fist fight, well-informed South Sudan government security sources with direct knowledge said.

In this undated photo, Ethiopian troops were seen at Juba airport and it was not known where they were heading. [Photo via SSNN]

Fist fighting has erupted among Ethiopian troops serving in South Sudan as part of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the world’s youngest country after a forced return to Ethiopia where most peacekeepers fears government brutality was met with resistance, several well-informed South Sudan government sources with direct knowledge have told Sudans Post this evening.

Wounded Tigrayan peacekeepers in Juba air port

“There was a fist fight this afternoon. A good number of the Ethiopian forces working at the United Nations Mission in South Sudan as peacekeepers are being forced to return home. They are mainly from the Tigray region and they resisted and this has caused fist fight because those who refused were beaten,” the government security source at Juba International Airport said.

Violence fist fight involving the use of sticks has broke out among Ethiopian peacekeepers at Juba International Airport after an attempt to force those unwilling to return to Ethiopia board plan for Addis Ababa where they fears persecution. pic.twitter.com/oct0UxHGZD

— Sudans Post (@SudansPost) February 22, 2021

Another senior Juba airport staffer confirmed the fist fight and said there were no danger as all of the peacekeepers were not carrying their guns when the fist fight broke out saying heavily mounted security vehicles have been deployed at the airport.

“As I speak to you, there is a heavy presence of National Security Service and police forces at Juba airport,” the official said on condition of anonymity. “They were being forced to return home because most of the peacekeepers have concerns to their safety once they arrive in Ethiopia and I am talking about those from the Tigray region.”

Phone calls to South Sudan government spokesman Michael Makuei and the army spokesman were not responded. Police spokesman Major-General Daniel Justin said he won’t comment “until I find out what is being said to have taken place while I haven’t heard anything about it.”

“Otherwise I can direct you to the Ethiopian embassy because it is their business,” he said.

The latest development is however contrary to what was wrote a few hours ago by some outlets in Juba that there was gunfire at Juba airport attributing it to violence among Ethiopian troops serving under the United Nations peacekeeping mission.

South Sudan News Now, a subsidiary of the online blog Nyamilepedia, had reported that “fighting broke out this afternoon at Juba International Airport – JIA between the Ethiopian’s government forces and Tigray forces serving under the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).”

UNHCR intervenes

Speaking to Sudans Post separately, a staff member of the UNHCR in South Sudan said they intervene and some of the peacekeepers are now in the reception center for registration as asylum seekers, with some being protected by South Sudan security forces.

“The commander of the Ethiopian forces came and had wanted this group of soldiers to board the plane to Addis immediately but these soldiers refused to do so and this is how the fight ensued when the soldiers who came with him tried to force them to board the plane, mainly Tigray region,” the UN staffer who refused not to be named said.

“This is not the first time such an incident happened.  There has been a number of such cases involving peace keeping  forces who hails from Tigray region, brought to the attention of CRA-UNHCR being forced to return to Ethiopia.

“Some even had their teeth broken as they struggled to freed themselves. They’re now in the custody of SS security forces and some have already been transported to the reception center for registration as asylum seekers.”

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