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General view of refugee camps in Bentiu, South Sudan, November 30, 2023. (File photo: CFP)

UN peacekeepers intensify efforts to safeguard communities in South Sudan

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The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has intensified its patrols in Tonj East county in a bid to reduce intercommunal violence and public confidence to allow normal resumption of activities.

UN Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General, Farhan Haq, confirmed that UN peacekeepers had strengthened surveillance around the county despite various challenges.

Beyond the peacekeeping patrols, UNMISS has also ramped up community engagement to better understand citizens’ needs. Special emphasis is placed on listening to women’s voices, ensuring that their concerns shape the mission’s strategies and actions.

Haq, in a routine press briefing conducted on Friday, noted that UNMISS had pointed out challenges in accessing Tonj East, “caused by poor road conditions and heavy rains, often make law enforcement complicated in the area, but local authorities are determined to continue providing services to these communities.”

Simultaneously, UNMISS is collaborating with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) to address broader issues of intercommunal conflict. The two agencies convened a two-day forum in Yambio for county commissioners, community leaders, youth, and women representatives from Western Equatoria State to help address persisting intercommunal conflict and violence.

The UN Mission in South Sudan has also called for sustained support from the government to ensure aid reaches the affected populations.

“We hope that the government and others can help us deliver essential supplies like medicines to remote areas before they are completely cut off. Our wet season always means that especially children become more vulnerable to malaria and other serious diseases,” said Samuel Gun Gak Thuc, the Acting County Commissioner Tonj East.

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