UNMISS strengthens protection of civilians in northern South Sudan

unmiss south sudan unity ruweng protection of civilians temporary operating base mongolia

Mongolian peacekeepers recently went on a long, multi-day patrol through the counties of Abiemnom and Mayom in northern South Sudan to assess the security situation. Photos: Peter Bateman/UNMISS

26 Jan 2024

UNMISS strengthens protection of civilians in northern South Sudan

Peter Bateman/Filip Andersson

UNITY/RUWENG – Responding to an increasing number of cases of cattle raiding, truck ambushes and other incidents of violence in the northern region of South Sudan, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has strengthened its presence along the border with its troubled neighbour Sudan.

As part of its strategy, the peacekeeping mission is not only intensifying patrols in the area – not least to keep truck drivers carrying humanitarian assistance safe – but is also coordinating with the government to potentially establish a temporary operating base in Abiemnom County in the Ruweng Administrative Area.

“We must be wherever the need to protect civilians is most pronounced,” commented Sergeant Nyamgerel Altangerel, who recently led a multi-day Mongolian patrol team monitoring the security situation in Abiemnom and across Mayom County.

As they navigated these perilous roads, the peacekeepers engaged with local communities to gather insights into the prevailing security situation.

In Mayom, they met local football coach Do Jackson, who expressed his relief at the increased visibility of Blue Helmets in the area.

"We focus on football, they [peacekeepers] on security. With them being here, we feel safe,” he said, with that sentiment being wordlessly demonstrated by his young players fully absorbed by the pleasures of the beautiful game.

The Mongolian contingent does both vehicle and foot patrols, during which they interact with government security forces, community leaders and other residents they come across along the way.

One concern, raised during an encounter with World Food Programme truck drivers delivering humanitarian aid to South Sudanese communities in need, is the ubiquity of checkpoints along the roads, and the demands frequently made by those manning/womaning them.

“There are many of them, and we are often asked for money to be allowed to proceed. When they don’t get what they want, we face serious danger,” Awade Nimeriy, one of the drivers, told the patrol team.

With more peacekeepers and government forces on the ground, Mr. Nimeriy and his colleagues hope that these challenges will become a thing of the past.