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UN warns of military buildup of Agwelek forces in Upper Nile

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) on Wednesday expressed deep concern following reported buildup of Agwelek militia fighters in Upper Nile state.

“The mission urges these forces, loyal to General Johnson Olony, to refrain from any actions or movements that might pose threats to civilians and affect humanitarian operations,”  said a statement issued by UNMISS in Juba.

It appealed to national and community leaders to exercise restraint and commit to peace and dialogue.

“With the historic visit of His Holiness Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland to South Sudan expected to take place this week, UNMISS appeals to national and community leaders to exercise restraint and commit to peace and dialogue,” it said.

The mission urged traditional leaders and political actors to prevent further escalation of violence.

 “The Mission continues to engage with Government, State officials, and other leaders to prevent any further escalation of tensions, following fierce fighting that began last November,” it noted.

On Tuesday, the embassies of Norway, the United Kingdom and the U.S issued a joint press statement saying they had “noted with grave concern” an indication of preparation for renewed fighting in Upper Nile.

Fighting since August between Agwelek militia and Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in opposition (SPLA-IO) faction under Gen.Simon Gatwech Dual displaced more than 9,000 people.

Over 2,300 displaced people fled to the Malakal protection site.

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