UNMISS Force Commander visits Gumuruk to assess current security situation
Communities across Jonglei state have suffered greatly,” said Lieutenant-General Shailesh Tinaikar, Force Commander, UNMISS, during his recent trip to Gumuruk, Jonglei state.
Intercommunal hostilities and subsequent cattle raids, revenge attacks and child abductions have ravaged much of Jonglei last year, leading to loss of lives, displacing thousands and creating a dire humanitarian situation on the ground which has been compounded by torrential rainfall as well as lack of road access for the peacekeeping operation.
“People living in Gumuruk, especially, were caught in the throes of repeated violence. When you add the burdens of massive flooding and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to a volatile security situation, you have an emergency,” revealed Force Commander Tinaikar.
“As a mission, we were doing the best we could to protect civilians, sending in frequent patrols by air and land, facilitating emergency deliveries of food supplies by our partners when needed, but the situation was complex with roads being virtually washed away. A temporary base was the best, most agile option, but we had to wait till the tail end of the rainy season to deploy.”
Indian peacekeepers had boots on the ground on 15 January 2021 and were welcomed warmly by local populations living in the area. Since their deployment, peacekeepers have stepped up patrols and community engagements.
Furthermore, they have started working with local administration and traditional leaders to bring people together through reconciliation activities. Lieutenant-General Tinaikar visited one such initiative—an ongoing veterinary camp run by UNMISS peacekeepers which was providing the necessary care to livestock owned by local farmers. UNMISS engineers from India are also currently repairing the road connecting Bor and Pibor.
Force Commander Tinaikar interacted with the acting county commissioner, Joseph Magil, and John Gulech, a community leader. Both appreciated the relative stability and calm brought about by Blue Berets as well as humanitarian assistance provided by the UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes; they requested UNMISS to conduct medical camps so that people can receive basic health care.
“In my last visit here, the scars of conflict were palpable,” stated the Force Commander while meeting with the local populace. “However, this time I can see that all of you are united by the desire for a durable peace across the region. I commend every effort you have made to put your differences aside and work with us to ensure a prosperous future for all communities living here.”