UN peacekeepers on South Sudan border withdraw following community protests

By David Malaak

A group of United Nations peacekeepers deployed in South Sudan’s Northern Bahr el Ghazal have pulled out of their bases following protest by the local communities in the area.

The United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei were deployed in Aweil North and Aweil East counties to patrol the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone between South Sudan and Sudan.

The demilitarized zone stretches 10 kilometres inland on both sides of the borderline.

Abyei remains a contested area between South Sudan and Sudan. 

The communities of Gok Machar in Aweil North and Aweil East Counties staged protests recently demanding the withdrawal of UNISFA from their area. 

They accused the peace keepers of inappropriate behaviours including annexation of their land to Sudan, discrimination in employment and sexual exploitation of girls and young women.

UNISFA has so far responded to the sexual allegations denying it.

Gabriel Ngang Maduok, the chairperson of Path community in Aweil North County confirmed the withdrawal of the peacekeepers, saying they started leaving the 14-Mile area locally called “Kiir Adem” site on Wednesday for Gok Machar, their headquarters.

The team in Waraba are expected to move to Gok Machar on Thursday where they will be relocated.

“Today we have finished in Kiir Adem and until date 30, they will be completely out of Aweil North and Aweil East,” Maduok told Juba Echo by phone.  

“Now our people [are] very happy,” Maduok said.

“As a community we don’t need any assets [from them]. What is important is that they are leaving our land.”

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