UNMISS Force Commander evaluates security situation in Bunj, Upper Nile
“Protecting civilians requires us to be responsive and agile—your operations since we deployed additional peacekeepers and equipment here have genuinely de-escalated tensions and prevented conflict,” said Lieutenant-General Shailesh Tinaikar, UNMISS Force Commander, as he addressed the mission’s Rwandan peacekeepers stationed in Bunj, Upper Nile state, South Sudan.
Force Commander Tinaikar’s visit, which took place on 2 February 2021, aimed at assessing the current security situation on the ground, after 50 additional Blue Berets were deployed to strengthen the mission’s response to an outbreak of intercommunal violence in December last year, which forced thousands of people living here to abandon their homes and lands.
“We decided to supplement the number of peacekeepers at the company operating base in Bunj for two reasons--make sure we, as a mission, were doing as much as possible to protect innocent civilians and to deter further clashes,” revealed the Lieutenant-General.
At the time, UNMISS also factored in logistic requirements by sending further vehicles and an armored personnel carrier which enabled troops to conduct more patrols, demonstrate presence and work with community members to stabilize the volatile security situation.
“By scaling up patrols, community engagements and activities undertaken to address urgent public needs our troops have managed to restore relative calm here,” continued the Force Commander. “However, much more remains to be done in terms of meeting the humanitarian exigencies that this displacement has given rise to.”
Supplementing his interactions with peacekeepers, Force Commander Tinaikar met Major-General James Ajak, the commander of the Liang cantonment site, who expressed his appreciation for the mission’s ongoing support towards peace and stability across Upper Nile.
“We all want this cycle of violence to end. This is possible only if all stakeholders have a place at the discussion table,” said Major-General Ajak. “With the appointment of a new Governor and Deputy Governor for our state, we are hopeful that local-level positions will also be filled soon, and the people of Upper Nile can look forward to a future of peace and development.”
For his part, Force Commander Tinaikar pledged UNMISS’ continuing support for the state government and encouraged those present at the cantonment site to work towards social cohesion and peaceful coexistence. “It is only by working together for durable peace across South Sudan that we can usher in true development across the country. UNMISS is here to support you in every way we can within our mandate and capacity,” stated the Lieutenant-General.
Apart from engagements with local counterparts and peacekeepers, Force Commander Tinaikar held discussiobs with humanitarian partners from the UN Refugee Agency, the World Food Programme and Save the Children to assess how UNMISS could help facilitate any assistance that they may need to ensure that the displaced population here have access to basic goods and services, such as food, water, basic healthcare, shelter and so forth