The beginning of the deployment of the Regional Protection Force is a major relief for the people of South Sudan who have been suffering from atrocities, displacement and war-induced famine.
The Regional Protection Force will improve the security situation and enhance the delivery of humanitarian aid to those who have been displaced by the escalating war in Upper Nile and the three Equatorias —West, East and Central.
The first batch of military engineers from Rwanda and Bangladesh arrived in Juba early last week, after the government of President Sava Kiir agreed to the deployment after eight months of resistance.
The real deployment starts in June through to July, with the initial troops from Rwanda, while contingents from Ethiopia, Nepal and Bangladesh will follow later.
The force, which will be led by Brig-Gen Jean Mupenzi from Rwanda, is expected to free the 13,000 United Nations Mission in South Sudan (Unmiss) to advance to other areas that are experiencing fresh fighting.
The force will also protect civilians from the proliferating ethnic militias that have been killing, raping and burning the houses of civilians.
Major-General Molla Hailemariam, the chairman of the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM), said the security situation remains calm in Juba despite heightened tensions attributed to economic difficulties, but there is fighting in many parts of the country.
“Large and small-scale offensive military operations continue in parts of the Greater Upper Nile region while fighting in the Greater Equatorias and the Greater Bahr El Ghazal regions is ongoing also. Citizens continue to be targeted by both parties and other armed groups,” said Gen Molla.
The force will also provide protection to the main routes to and out of Juba such as the Nimule Highway, which is central to trade between South Sudan and other East African countries.
Unmiss in a statement announcing the arrival of the first batch of the regional protection force, said: “The force headquarters has already been established in Juba under the leadership of Brigadier General Jean Mupenzi from Rwanda.
In addition, an advance party of a construction engineering Company from Bangladesh arrived on April 20, bringing essential equipment to begin the preparation of accommodation and working areas for the RPF in Juba. Regional troops from Rwanda will follow in June and July.”
The government has welcomed the advanced team, with presidential adviser on security affairs Tut Kew Gatluak attributing the delay to the UN, which was not cleared with the government on what type of arms the force was to bring along with them.
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In March, Chiefs of General Staff from the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) countries, visited the area to work on the modalities of deployment.
Source:The East African