By Okech Francis
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan has refuted reports it was withdrawing security from a protection of civilian base in Malakal, capital of Upper Nile, a northern state in the oil rich country.
The mission said an inaccurate press statement was made following a consultation on the Protection of Civilians site with stakeholders, including the Governor and other local authorities.
Malakal POC was one of the main bases in the country where civilians fleeing conflict escaped to.
While there, they were protected by the UN peacekeepers.
The crisis which began in December 2013 left 400,000 people dead, displaced four million others and slashed crude production leading to an economic chaos.
A peace deal, signed in September 2018 is currently being implemented in the country and all displaced people encouraged to return home but without force.
“No announcement was made about a decision to “withdraw” from the Malakal POC and it is unfortunate that this erroneous claim has been reported by media as fact,” UNMISS said in an emailed statement.
It did not cite any source but said its “incorrect and risks causing unnecessary concern among the displaced community.”
UNMISS said its position is very clear in line with Security Council Resolution 2567, that the right security conditions must exist in Malakal before any transition of the POC can take place. “UNMSS will also continue to fulfil its mandate to protect civilians in Malakal as in other locations across the country,” it said.