UNMISS protects supply convoys to colleagues and people of Abyei affected by Sudan conflict

unmiss south sudan unisfa abyei sudan conflict convoy force protection escort humanitarian aid supplies

An increase of attacks targeting humanitarian convoys have led to more of them being escorted and protected by UNMISS peacekeepers. Photos by Peter Bateman/UNMISS

21 Mar 2024

UNMISS protects supply convoys to colleagues and people of Abyei affected by Sudan conflict

Peter Bateman/Filip Andersson

In response to the escalating conflict in Sudan, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has taken on a critical role in ensuring the safe passage of essential supplies to the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA). 

With traditional supply routes through Port Sudan being compromised, supplies are currently being trucked from Mombasa, Kenya, through South Sudan to reach Abyei.

This route, however, is not without challenges. While the intensity of conflict in parts of South Sudan is lower than in neighbouring Sudan, some areas still present dangers to truck drivers and peacekeepers. Recent surges in banditry and illegal checkpoints in places like Twic County and Abeimnom mean that risks exist. Some drivers have been attacked, with a few having lost their lives.

To keep them and their vital cargo safe, UNMISS peacekeepers from Bangladesh have recently begun to escort the convoys.

Squadron Leader Pardon Maturure, a Zimbabwean Blue Helmet, coordinates their departures from Wau and highlights the difficulties involved

“Moving with up to 60 vehicles to protect vulnerable drivers is no small feat. What should be a two-day journey can take nearly a week, not least due to sometimes complicated negotiations at armed checkpoints,” he noted.

Driver Edwin Njogu, part of a 55-vehicle entourage travelling to Abyei, says that sights of burnt-out and bullet-ridden trucks are not uncommon.

There is a reason we call ourselves road soldiers,” he comments.

Apart from accompanying the convoys, military observers serving with UNMISS liaise closely with South Sudanese security forces to ensure that government partners are aware and will support these large movements. 

The significant efforts made by peacekeepers to make the transportation of essential aid is critical not only to people in Abyei but also for residents in areas of South Sudan that are also affected by climate-induced challenges and insecurity due to armed conflict. Without the security they provide, vital supplies may just not reach their intended recipients.