Residents in Koch welcome deployment of peacekeepers to protect civilians, encourage displaced to return home
The UN Mission in South Sudan has temporarily deployed peacekeepers to Koch County in Northern Liech to protect civilians and humanitarian workers and encourage displaced people to return to their homes.
“As women, we welcome the deployment of a UN force to patrol our area and improve our security. We are now feeling more secure and can move around freely,” says Martha Nyatuak Riek, chairlady of a local women’s organization. “Since their arrival, we have not heard any rape cases.”
Ghanaian peacekeepers have been here since the beginning of January to patrol the town and surrounding areas, including territory controlled by the main opposition group, the Sudan’s People Liberation Movement in Opposition.
Youth representative Peter Gai Puot points out that civilians are not the only beneficiaries of the deployed troops.
“Their presence means that humanitarian workers can also enjoy free movement,” he says.
During a recent visit to Koch, Lieutenant General Shailesh Tinaikar, Force Commander of the UN peacekeeping mission in the country, explained the importance and objective of the deployment of blue helmets to this area in the Unity region, known to have been a hotspot throughout the conflict that erupted in December 2013.
“We are here to build trust and confidence among the local communities, and to interact with the people and spread messages of peace and reconciliation”, the Force Commander said.