NAIROBI, Kenya – The United Nations mission in South Sudan accused the government Wednesday of spreading false claims that the U.N. camp near the scene of a massacre refused to shelter victims.
In a statement, the United Nations said South Sudan Minister of Information Michael Lueth was wrong to tell a news conference earlier Wednesday that residents seeking protection were barred from entering a U.N. base in the contested city of Bentiu. Many instead ended up in houses of worship, where hundreds were slain April 15 and 16.
The U.N. mission denied it turned away any civilians at its camp in Bentiu. It said the numbers of people sheltering inside the base rose from 8,000 on April 15, when the killings started, to about 22,500 by Wednesday. It added that U.N. peacekeepers helped rescue more than 500 civilians from the city hospital, where rebel soldiers on a killing spree had cornered them.
The U.N. also said the minister, Lueth, was wrong to suggest that refugees were rebel fighters or sympathizers, and these remarks could encourage attacks on refugees inside U.N. camps.