Concerns for displaced people in South Sudan over the withdrawal of peacekeepers

On Monday, the displaced persons installed at the Civil Protection (POC) site in Bentiu, in the north, demonstrated. Last week, Bor and Juba had done it. These displaced people do not want peacekeepers to leave as planned in an agreement with the government. The UN forces must be replaced by the South Sudanese authorities.

With our regional correspondent in Nairobi, Sebastien nemeth

South Sudanese displaced people living in POCs say they have been abandoned by the UN. For them, the departure of the blue helmets is too early. Main source of concern: the peace agreement signed in 2018 is far from fully implemented. They cite as an example the total army that is not in place and the security arrangements are used very partially. Some also say they fear their government and national security forces.

The UN has decided to hand over the country’s five POCs. These sites, created in an emergency, especially in 2013, are under the protection of the United Nations and are home to tens of thousands of people. In general, about 150 peacekeepers and 150 to 300 UN police officers protect them permanently. But for the UN force in South Sudan, this unit is obsolete.

Blue helmets must be relocated

David Shearer, the head of Minuss, explains that the POCs had been built “to protect the people from immediate physical danger”. But according to him, “the threats that existed at the time are no longer relevant.” David Shearer believes peacekeepers “should be deployed where they are most needed”, citing Jongley’s case where inter-community violence the last few months have left 600 dead and 160,000 displaced.

The agreement means that the POCs will become classic IDP camps, protected by the national police. Elements trained for several months by the UN to take over. It will then be up to the government to seek lasting solutions for the resettlement of these civilians.

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