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UN peacekeeping chief arrives in Juba

February 2, 2014 (JUBA) – Hervé Ladsous, the United Nations peacekeeping operations chief arrived in the South Sudanese capital, Juba on Sunday as part of his two-day visit to the country.

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The UN chief of peacekeeping operations, Herve Ladsous (Photo: AFP/Federic J. Brown)

Ladsous, on arrival, lauded its South Sudan mission staff for their courage to stand with people affected by weeks of violence in the country.

“There had to be difficult decisions to be made,” he said, adding “I think it’s a credit to the UN that the Special Representative of the Secretary General and all the staff, whether international or national … have displayed such strength during these very difficult circumstances.”

Ladsous also plans to meet with its mission staff and peacekeepers in country to thank them for their efforts in helping protect at risk civilians throughout the crisis.

The first group of peacekeeping reinforcements arrived in South Sudan in mid-January following a UN Security Council decision (UNSC) to bolster UNMISS forces by 5,500 to 12,500 troops.

Among the troops being sent are 850 Nepalese peacekeepers, 350 of whom will be redeployed from Haiti. But UN chief for peacekeeping operations said the 5,500-strong surge in UN peacekeepers and equipment could take up to eight weeks to be fully deployed on the ground.

Ladsous, prior to his Juba visit, also attended the African Union (AU) summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where he and the Under Secretary General for field support Ameerah Haq represented the UN at a meeting held by the AU-UN Joint Task Force on Peace and Security.

The UN estimates some 740,000 people have been internally displaced since the conflict erupted in Juba before spreading throughout the country as forces loyal to president Salva Kiir and rebel elements aligned with former vice-president Riek Machar battled for control of key areas.

(ST).