The UN Mission in South Sudan has responded to the call from the local population in the Southern Sudanese town of Yei to beef up security in the area.
The UN Mission has deployed Rwanda and Nepal peacekeepers in the area.
The people of Yei had asked that UN troops be sent to the area to help protect them from the ongoing violence, including rape, roadside ambushes, killing and looting.
At least 150 Rwandan and Nepalese peacekeepers will initially be based in the town with that number gradually rising to 300, according to a statement from the UN.
They will provide regular patrols, particularly to rural areas, to improve security so humanitarian agencies can reach people in need and to encourage people who fled the violence to return home.
Yei was hit particularly hard by the violence with most of its population fleeing to other parts of the country or across the border to escape the violence. Security has improved since the signing of a peace deal by warring parties last year and it is hoped that the situation will stabilise further with the arrival of the peacekeepers.
“I cannot promise that we are going to protect everybody,” said the Head of UNMISS and Special Representative of the Secretary-General, David Shearer. “What I think we are able to do though is to ensure there is peace, be a witness to what is happening here, and to provide a better, secure environment for people to come back.”
‘‘Yei was once the breadbasket of South Sudan but crops were destroyed and farms abandoned. With the gradual improvement in security though, life and industry is beginning to return,” said the statement.
“UNMISS has come so that we can have peace. We have to forget the past,” said Yei Women’s Association Vice-Chair, Mama Hawa Adam. “UNMISS has come at the right time so we can start cultivating seeds because all of our food has been taken away. We don’t have that culture of begging for food, we produce our food using our hands.”