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UN official urges cooperation on regional forces in S. Sudan

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August 1, 2017 (JUBA)- The head of peacekeeping operations at the United Nations on Tuesday called for cooperation with South Sudan government to expedite deployment of regional protection forces in the war-torn nation.

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The head of the UN peacekeeping mission, Jean-Pierre Lacroix speaks to reporters in Juba, August 1, 2017 (UN photo)

Jean-Pierre Lacroix, who is currently in the war-torn nation, will meet President Salva Kiir to discuss several issues, including humanitarian, security situation and the immediate deployment of the regional forces, among other issues.

The visit of the senior UN official to the war-torn nation reportedly came after its agencies and humanitarian organizations issued statements, describing the situation as having deteriorated after the renewed fighting between the government and the armed opposition forces in the former Unity and Upper Nile states.

The situation forced humanitarian organisations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), to suspend lifesaving activities in conflict-affected areas by recent military offensives and evacuated both staff and patients following an attack in Maiwut, an area previously held by members of armed opposition group under the leadership of exiled ex-First Vice President, Riek Machar.

“We just had a meeting with His Excellency the Minister and his colleagues from the Government. We discussed different issue. We discussed about the security situation in South Sudan. We discussed about the peace process and how to advance efforts with a view to bring peace and stability in South Sudan; we referred to the revitalization efforts of IGAD; we referred to efforts that have been made by neighbouring countries such as Uganda; and we agreed that these were promising efforts and promising initiatives that we have to help move forward," Lacroix told reporters in the capital, Juba.

The UN, he said, looks forward to further support from the government to expedite procedures needed to facilitate the deployments of the forces approved by the Security Council last year.

In August 2016, the UN Security Council, following request by the regional body Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), approved the deployment of 4,000-strong RPF force to secure Juba in the aftermath of renewed clash there.
South Sudan’s coalition government confirmed its unconditional consent to the deployment of the force in a communiqué to the Security Council on November 30, 2016.

The 4,000-strong force is meant to protect civilians from the gang rapes and other abuses seen during the fighting that erupted in the capital, Juba, a year ago. This additional force would beef up the existing 13,000-strong UN peacekeeping troops.

“On our side, we are working very hard with troop contributing countries to make sure that they will be able to deploy as expeditiously as possible. So it’s a team work and it requires the cooperation of all, the hard work of the UN, the troop contributing countries and that of the Government of South Sudan”, said Lacroix.

The official said the UN will help the war-torn nation achieve peace and stability.

“We emphasized the fact that the UN humanitarian agencies are doing their best to help the population of South Sudan and we look forward to further cooperation with the Government so that we can access populations in distress wherever the needs are”, he added.

South Sudan’s civil war broke out in December 2013 after President Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup. Since then, tens of thousands of people have been killed and over two million displaced in barley five years of conflict.

(ST)

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