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Linda Tom, UNMISS spokesperson posed for a photo with UNMISSS patrol team in Bentiu IDP camp

New peacekeeping strategy transforms security in Unity State

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has adapted a new strategy for supporting the government to provide security amid flooding in Unity State.

Jane Kony, the Acting head of Field Office in Unity State for UNMISS, said they have set up temporary operating bases, company operating bases strategically placed all over the area of responsibility.

“We also deployed the military observers and the UN police to be able to interactively and collectively deliver on our mandate,” Kony told journalists on Thursday during working visit to Bentiu.

She said UNMISS head office is supporting the government to be able to deliver on its primary responsibility to protect its citizens.

“We adapted our posture to be able to continue to consistently deliver on our mandate,” Kony said.

In 2021, deadly intermittent violence occurred in Koch County prompting UNMISS to deploy peacekeepers at it’s temporary base to consistently engage with community leaders to build confidence and bolster security.

Col.James Tut, director of Joint Police Unit said they are working with UN Police and UNMISS Civil Affairs Division to protect civilians.

He said that the rate of crime cases such as such as robberies and revenge killings that were high in the past years have drastically reduced in the state. 

“We are able to protect our civilians due to existing trust and confidence in the police services,” Tut said.

Lt. Col Yuette Van, the UN Police patrol team leader, said that the security situation in Rubkona County and Bentiu is relatively calm.

He said UN Police advises the joint police unit and the South Sudan police services to beef up security and protection of civilians.

“The security situation currently is relatively calm, we would say calm but unpredictable, as UNPol we are making a difference and making the community feel safer,” Van said.

Van disclosed that petty crimes such as theft and gender-based violence (GBV) are still prevalent.

Gordon Gatkuoth, the Executive Director for Koch County, said the security situation has stabilized compared to previous time.

However, he noted that the roads remain impassable following heavy flooding since 2019.

 “Koch County has no problem, the security is all right, and there are no rebels in Koch. People can move freely from Koch County to Leer County,” Gatkuoth said.

Capt. Abdul Raffic Kolawole, the military intelligence officer for the Koch-based Ghana Peacekeeping Battalion, said over 200 force protection missions have been conducted leading to improved security in Koch County.

He said the improved security has allowed delivery of humanitarian services or goods to the people of Koch County.

“The presence of the temporary operating base has caused incidents of theft and house break-ins to decrease significantly over the period,” Kolawole said.

Tor Tungwar, the Deputy Governor of Unity State, said his government has deployed security agencies to provide protection to civilians.

“We have been in contact with security personnel to provide security and protection, the state government has put in place all measures in providing security and protection of our civilians and IDPs,” Tungwar said.

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