September 13, 2016 (JUBA) – The number of South Sudan’s armed opposition fighters so far extracted from neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has reached over 750, according to the United Nations spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric.
“In addition to information we shared with you on Friday, the UN Peacekeeping Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), has continued to extract this group of individuals from the Garamba National Park in the DRC. Yesterday the Peacekeeping Mission extracted an additional 118 persons on humanitarian grounds,” Dujarric said in a statement.
“To date 752 individuals affiliated with the SPLM/A-IO have been extracted,” he added.
Among those extracted, he explained, 631 are in UN-run facilities in three locations inside the DRC, with some receiving medical treatment while others recovering from exhaustion.
“Security arrangements are in place in all locations,” Dujarric said.
He said the UN has continued to engage with both the DRC and the South Sudan authorities as well as regional actors to encourage them to find a solution to the presence of South Sudanese armed individuals in the territory of the DRC.
“Authorities of both countries are regularly informed of actions taken on the ground,” said Dujarric.
"All of those extracted were disarmed before boarding UN helicopters and the UN mission has those weapons secured," he further stressed.
The UN, however, reiterated that its operations were conducted on humanitarian grounds and within the role of contributing to stability in the DRC. It said authorities in South Sudan and of the DRC were all notified the UN’s actions on the ground.
"The UN continues to engage with both DRC and South Sudan authorities to find a solution to the presence of South Sudan fighters within the territory of the DRC," said the UN official.
Meanwhile, the armed opposition faction (SPLM-IO) has confirmed that dozens of their officers who were extracted together with its leader Riek Machar in the DRC have already arrived in Pagak, the General Headquarters, at the Ethiopian border.
“Yes, some of our officers who were accompanying our leader from Juba to the DR Congo have already arrived in Pagak,” Machar’s spokesperson, James Gatdet Dak, told Sudan Tribune Tuesday.
He said officers who arrived in Pagak last week included military spokesman, Colonel William Gatjiath Deng, extracted together with Machar at DRC border on 17 August.