Koch residents praise re-establishment of temporary UNMISS base
Preventing conflict from breaking out or swiftly mitigating its effects on innocent civilians by establishing temporary bases in hotspots is a key priority of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.
Koch County in Unity State is one such volatile area. Ghanaian peacekeepers are establishing a base here for the second time to bring peace and harmony.
So far, the impact of their presence has been positive.
“We used to have many incidents of cattle raids, revenge and random killings, harassment of humanitarian workers and robberies, but now we receive a lot less reports about these things taking place,” says Gordon Gatkuoth Ruot, Deputy County Commissioner.
During a recent visit to Koch, Lieutenant General Shailesh Tinaikar, Force Commander of the UN peacekeeping mission in the country, explained the objective of the deployment of blue helmets.
“The area in and around Koch has been unstable of late with early warnings of possible conflict,” he said, adding that the presence of UN troops can deter potential fighting.
Peacekeepers at the temporary base are consistently engaging with community leaders and members to build trust and confidence, and to spread messages of peace and reconciliation, across the county.
“We have been having a difficult time lately, with an air of unpredictability looming over the area, “said Kuony Tap, an elder from nearby Patit village. “However, since UNMISS peacekeepers started patrolling and engaging with communities living here, the situation has improved. We can move freely and go about our daily tasks without fear,” he added.
The going, however, has been far from easy for those calling the temporary operating base home.
“The Ghanaian troops are facing a lot of hardships during the wet season because of the lack of roads and temporary infrastructure. Resupplying their rations takes time, with incessant rains making it harder to move, yet our soldiers monitoring the situation daily to make sure that tensions don’t increase,” said Captain Sulbein, commander of the Koch base.
The temporary operating base is likely to be stationed in Koch for a considerable period of time to make sure that sustainable calm in the area prevails.