African Union airlifts tents in support of cantonment process
With less than three months left until the new deadline for forming a unified transitional government for the world’s youngest nation, South Sudan is amassing all the support it can get to make sure the process goes smoothly.
This Wednesday, peace partners from the African Union and the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), along with representatives of the Joint Verification Monitoring Mechanism, gathered at Juba International Airport to welcome a shipment of 640 multipurpose tents to be distributed to 35 cantonment sites across the country.
“I would like to express thanks for this donation sent to us from Cameroon,” said South Sudan People's Defense Forces (SSPDF) Major General Majier Deng Kur and National Pre-Transitional Committee member. “This is a great push and I think we will be able to start cantonment soon,” he continued.
The tents will be used to bolster the various sites by expanding their capacity to assemble, screen, and mobilize soldiers who will be deployed in future unified fighting forces.
“This is a key component in achieving a revitalized peace agreement,” said Amadou Ceesay of the African Union. “We were not able to do so this past May because the security sector was lagging behind. That is why the African Union Commission deemed it necessary to provide some in-kind support so that unified forces can be trained in anticipation of the formation of a revised government on November 12,” he said.
Unanimity has been elusive in South Sudan from the moment it gained independence in 2011. Despite the last peace deal being signed in 2018, parties to the conflict have struggled to bring its terms to fruition. Hopes for reconciliation, however, are still high.
“The arrival of these items is very timely,” said Mbalati Mlungisi, chargé d'affaires at the South African Embassy and member of the African Union’s C5 working group, tasked with overseeing the implementation of the peace agreement in South Sudan. “We encourage everyone to contribute what they can so that the next steps may be carried out without delay,” he added.
Aside from Cameroon, other African Union member countries such as South Africa, Nigeria, and Egypt have pledged to provide further essential supplies.
“This is a collective responsibility,” reiterated Ceesay. “Everybody has a role—the South Sudanese and the international community. We will all join hands together to make sure that the process can be finalized and the agreement implemented to the letter,” he said.
The tents will be accompanied by a separate shipment of two generators.