UN to reduce peacekeepers in South Sudan

UN peacekeepers in South Sudan. PHOTO | AFP
UN peacekeepers in South Sudan. PHOTO | AFP

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said Tuesday it plans to reduce troop numbers by seven percent this year, due to a drop in violence in the conflict-torn country.

UNMISS chief David Shearer said the drawdown is also a result of UN troops withdrawing from camps where civilians had sought protection during the country’s six-year civil war, handing control of the sites to Juba.

“Over the coming year, there will be a reduction of our military and police peacekeepers by around seven percent,” Shearer told journalists during his last press conference after four years in the job.

He said the decision was also a result of a “reduction in violence” following the signing of a peace deal in 2018.

UNMISS currently has 14,500 military and 2,000 police peacekeepers across the country.

The mission announced its withdrawal from the so-called protection of civilians sites in September 2020, when some 180,000 still lived in the camps where they had fled amid brutal ethnic atrocities which characterized the conflict.

The government has not announced how many still remain.

Despite the reduction in the number of peacekeepers, Shearer cautioned “the peace process remains fragile and there is still much to be done.”

Shearer said however that more troops could be brought in if violence rose again.

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