Chinese Peacekeepers in the United Nations Mission to South Sudan (UNMISS) parade during the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers in Juba, South Sudan May 29, 2017. REUTERS/Samir Bol
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United Nations peacekeepers in South Sudan are moving more aggressively to protect civilians caught in the country's four-year civil war, after years of criticism for failures that led to the sacking of the mission's military chief last year. This year, the U.N. Mission in South Sudan has rescued aid workers and U.N. staff during attacks, saved civilians from abduction by armed groups, and pushed past roadblocks to a massacre site.Between December 2013 and July 2016, more than 100 civilians and four U.N. peacekeepers were killed in attacks on U.N. bases when peacekeepers didn't shoot back, fled, or delayed responding, according to data from the U.N. and CIVIC.After the U.N. arrived, rebels withdrew, and a government offensive that had displaced 20,000 civilians paused.U.N. peacekeepers have been in South Sudan since before independence, but found themselves frequently criticized after war broke out by aid groups like Doctors Without Borders, who said they were not doing enough to protect civilians.They need to be working in cooperation with the government ... They cannot run a parallel government," presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said. He denied that government forces had killed or abused civilians. The U.N. did not arrive in Aburoc until April, well after the government offensive began in January.
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