Arrival of UN regional force in South Sudan will free up peacekeepers to patrol “insecure roads”
The arrival of a UN regional force in South Sudan will enable the UN Mission in the country, UNMISS to free up additional peacekeepers to mount more “patrols along insecure roads,” the head of the Mission, David Shearer has said.
Mr Shearer, who is also the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for South Sudan was speaking in Juba following the arrival, over the weekend, of the first 120 soldiers of the Rwandan battalion of the Regional Protection Force (RPF).
The RPF was mandated by the UN Security Council with a maximum troop strength of 4000 and will bolster the Mission’s capacity to deter violence and protect civilians in the South Sudanese capital, Juba.
The 15-member Council authorized the force in the wake of the violence in Juba in July 2016.
A Nepalese High Readiness company and over 100 Bangladeshi engineers have already arrived in the Mission area as part of the force.
Mr Shearer said the arrival of these contingents “marks the beginning of the phased deployment of the RPF” in Juba.
Some 600 additional Rwandan peacekeepers will arrive in next few weeks while the “arrival of Ethiopian troops is imminent,” Mr Shearer added.
RPF troops will be based in Juba and will operate if necessary, in surrounding areas.
“The RPF’s arrival means that UNMISS troops already based in Juba can, as needed, be redeployed to different locations across South Sudan,” Mr Shearer said, “to protect civilians, support humanitarian assistance to be delivered and monitor and report on human rights abuses.”
And he added that “UNMISS is continuously assessing its priorities,” noting that additional troops “would enable us to put more patrols along insecure roads where there have been attacks on civilian convoys, such as the Juba-Nimule and Juba-Bor roads.”
A number of attacks have taken place along those routes; in the latest five people were reportedly killed last week when a convoy was attacked by armed men near Moli village, a known trouble-spot on the Juba-Nimule road.
Expressing his condolences, Mr Shearer said that “all our peacekeepers strive to be robust, nimble and proactive in our response. But as we all know fighting persists and insecurity for civilians remains a real challenge.”
The RPF is not a separate UN peacekeeping force, but will come under the command of the UNMISS Force Commander, Lieutenant General Frank Kamanzi of Rwanda who will report to the Mission head, David Shearer.
The force will carry out its operations in cooperation with the Government of South Sudan.