South Sudan Conflict: Australia Sends Military Planes to Aid UN Peacekeeping Mission

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By Reissa Su | December 27, 2013 2:26 PM EST

The Australian government is preparing to send military aircrafts, C-17A Globemaster and C-130 Hercules, to assist the United Nations (UN) in restoring peace to South Sudan where the army is fighting rebel forces. As local troops flush out insurgents, the UN has moved to prevent civil war in the region.

Thousands were reportedly killed after days of violence between the supporters of President Salva Kiir against the forces loyal to his rival Riek Machar, who was former vice-president before he was removed from office in July.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has urged the two political rivals to come to an agreement to put an end to the violence in South Sudan. The battle has turned into an ethnic war, pitting tribes against each other. Mr Ban has condemned the deaths of innocent civilians as a "grave violation of human rights."

Since Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott is on Christmas holiday, Acting Prime Minister Warren Truss expressed his support of the UN's efforts to stabilize South Sudan.

Mr Truss said the planes will be sent to assist the UN mission. He noted that 70 Australian citizens were reportedly in the country, mostly workers of non-government organisatinons, but 500 to 1000 Australians who are also dual nationals were in the country.

He encouraged those who were still in South Sudan to leave the country for their own safety. He also acknowledged the risks of Australia's mission to Sudan. A U.S. aircraft has been shot shortly before Christmas.

The UN said aid agencies will need $166 million to help civilians who were affected in the violent attacks in South Sudan. The money will be used to provide relief, maintain health and sanitation, and managing camps for temporary settlement of people displaced by ethnic wars.

The peacekeeping forces sent by the UN are expected to arrive in two days. Despite efforts of African leaders to negotiate for peace in the country, reports said renewed fighting continues between the government forces and supporting the former vice-president.

The UN Security Council voted on December 25 to send 6,000 peacekeepers as additional reinforcements. 

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