September 8, 2016 (JUBA) – The UK is to expand its contribution to the United Nations peacekeeping force in South Sudan, raising the planned total from 300 to 400, defense secretary, Michael Fallon said.
- British troops in a parade (Getty Images)
The British troops heading to the world’s newest country will join a 12,000-strong UN force from 50 nations already on the ground.
Once in young nation, the deployment will more than double the UK’s global peacekeeping efforts, Fallon said in a statement.
The additional UK personnel, it said, will enable the provision of a field hospital, supporting deployed UK and other UN peacekeepers.
“This large scale deployment underlines how we are stepping up our global commitments,” observed the UK defence minister.
“Backed by a rising defence budget, its part of our effort to tackle the instability that leads to mass migration and terrorism. It will help keep Britain safe while improving lives abroad,” he stressed.
The recent UK role in South Sudan has involved vital engineering work to strengthen infrastructure – provided by two engineer squadron groups – and is in addition to longstanding advisory support to the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) headquarters.
The first UK personnel arrived in the world’s youngest nation in June, and the main body deployment is expected in country next year.
Britain’s commitment comes in the wake an approval by the African Union to deploy protection forces with the aim of restoring peace and stability in and around the South Sudanese capital, Juba.
South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, descended into violence in mid-December 2013, leaving estimated tens of thousands dead and displaced nearly two million people, aid agencies say.
Meanwhile, apart from its contribution to UNMISS, the UK is also backing a UN mission in Somalia to ensure security against terrorism threat.