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UNMISS head visits South Sudan’s rebel-held Akobo town

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SRSG David Shearer meets Akobo residents on 1 Nov 2017 (UNMISS Photo/Amanda Voisard)
November 2, 2017 (JUBA) - The head of the United Nation Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Wednesday visited the rebel-held town of Akobo, sending a signal of hope of the extension of humanitarian assistance and protection to the remote area near the Ethiopian border.

David Shearer said in a statement that the visit was of the efforts of the Peacekeeping forces “aiming to reach more vulnerable people in remote parts of South Sudan.

He said United Nations peacekeepers are expected to reach vulnerable people in remote parts of South Sudan as the UN mission in the country takes a more “nimble and proactive” approach.

Shearer, who is also the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for South Sudan, was speaking in the town of Akobo, a hard-to-reach area in the north-east of the country, close to the border with Ethiopia.

“It’s clear that the needs of people in this location are immense,” said Shearer, “so UNMISS is looking at ways of extending a presence in the town”, he explained.

UN agencies estimate that there are some 71,000 people living in Akobo town and its surroundings, many of them have been displaced by the fighting between government SPLA and opposition forces in the north-east part of the country.

Akobo lies in an opposition-held part of South Sudan.

“As UNMISS we need to reach communities in need in all parts of the country, regardless of their ethnic or political background,” said UNMISS in a statement released on Thursday.

The mission had operated a base in the town but it was closed down following an attack in December 2013 in which two Indian peacekeepers and thirty civilians were killed.

“I came to Akobo to listen to the needs of the community, the local authorities and the 10 to 15 humanitarian agencies which are working here,” said Shearer.

“The UNMISS mandate is to protect civilians and help create an environment conducive to the delivery of humanitarian aid”, he added, “So it was important to hear from the humanitarians working here how the presence of peacekeepers and other mission personnel can help.”

The mission has been stepping up flights into Akobo sending in peacekeepers and staff on temporary assignments.

(ST)

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