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Kenya starts pulling out troops from South Sudan

Chinese peacekeepers of UNMISS, patrol outside the premises of the UN Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in Juba on October 4, 2016. (Albert Gonzalez Farran/AFP Photo)

November 9, 2016 (JUBA)- Kenyan troops serving in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) have started leaving the country in compliance with withdrawal order by the government.

Last week, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered the withdrawal of troops in response to the sacking of the Kenyan commander of the UNMISS force.

Multiple sources with the United Nations told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday that up to 100 Kenyan soldiers and officers have pulled out from Wau.

“Oh yes, 100 Kenyan soldiers and officers have gone today. They came from Wau, which is one of the places to which they have been deployed in the country. They are in Kuacjok, Wau and Aweil,’’ a UNMISS official told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday.

The official, who is not authorised to speak with the press, added that the withdrawal of Kenyan troops would take some days because they need to be replaced.

"What is happening now is that the United Nations is deploying Nepalese soldiers to places in which Kenyan were deployed. Today, a company was deployed to Wau”, he added.

He further said the world body was exerting necessary efforts to fill the gap from other places.

“Because the mission does not want to create a vacuum, the management has started pulling out troops from other areas and started deploying them to where Kenyans are leaving,” he said.

Last Thursday, United Nations peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous regretted Kenya’s decision to withdraw troops from South Sudan.

Ladsous pointed that Kenya has been a solid contributor to UN peacekeeping efforts in South Sudan. Also he said the United Nations is assessing what consequences Kenya’s withdrawal will have on a UN plan to beef up its peacekeeping force there.

The French diplomat underlined that there are over 200,000 displaced persons in the UNMISS camps, relying on UN protection. He added that the UN is trying to deploy reinforcements as quickly as possible.

(ST)