x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

UN agrees to 7,000-strong peacekeeping force for South Sudan

UN adopts resolution "welcoming the establishment of the Republic of South Sudan ... upon its proclamation as an independent state" and laid out plans to maintain peace in a territory that has endured decades of violence.

NEW YORK // The UN Security Council unanimously agreed to authorise a peacekeeping force of 7,000 troops and 900 police for South Sudan yesterday, tasked with promoting security and development in the world's newest country.

The 15-nation body adopted a resolution yesterday "welcoming the establishment of the Republic of South Sudan ... upon its proclamation as an independent state" and laid out plans to maintain peace in a territory that has endured decades of violence.

The UN's deployment has a one-year renewable mandate to protect civilians, patrol trouble-spots, demobilise child soldiers and work with UN agencies to promote development and strengthen the government's ability to govern fairly.

It is mandated to extend state control to all the country's 8.2 million people, advise on an "inclusive constitutional process", help organise elections and promote independent media. Blue helmets will also "consolidate peace and security" and demobilise soldiers.

The troops are expected to mostly come from a pre-existing 10,400-strong UN peacekeeping force that monitors the 2005 north-south peace deal, which operates on both sides of the disputed border. The force's mandate expires today and Khartoum has demanded that its soldiers leave the north.

Washington's UN envoy, Susan Rice, who is in Juba today for independence celebrations, said violence continues in Southern Kordofan, a frontier state in north Sudan, between Khartoum's troops and pro-South fighters.

About 3,000 UN peacekeepers are currently based in Southern Kordofan and the neighbouring Blue Nile state, where fighting persists. Troops there should not "be compelled to leave abruptly or prematurely", said Ms Rice.

South Sudanese officials are expected to request admission as a UN member to secretary general Ban Ki-moon, who was also due in Juba today. This starts an admission process that could see the new state become the world body's 193rd member as early as Thursday.

 

jreinl@thenational.ae