Thai sappers in South Sudan go the extra mile


Blue helmets from Thailand working with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) not only do their bit to repair and rehabilitate critical infrastructure but also support the mission’s COVID-19 response and train local communities to grow their own food.

Since 2018, the Royal Thai Armed Forces deployed troops serving as the Horizontal Military Engineering Company (HMEC) to support the UN mission in the world’s youngest nation.

A contingent of 270 Thai peacekeepers work mainly in two South Sudanese cities, the capital Juba and Rumbek 400 km to the north where they help to maintain supply routes, including engineering tasks, with the UNMISS Engineering Section.

As an example Thai engineers serving with UNMISS repaired a section of the frequently travelled Juba-Yei road. Most main supply routes in South Sudan are in constant need of repair and convoys to different parts of the country often suffer delays or damage – making transportation, access and delivery of humanitarian assistance a herculean task.

Lieutenant Colonel Kaisin Sasunee, current contingent commander of Thai HMEC, is proud of his unit’s work on roadway maintenance and repair and equally proud of HMEC’s agricultural demonstration plots at the Yei Checkpoint Juba. This is part of an effort to teach residents of three surrounding communities how to grow food and become more self-sufficient.

He said it was rewarding to support local communities, to improve their situations and pass on some of his culture.

“My unit has a warm relationship with locals, due to the warmth of the Thai people. When we meet someone, we greet them with smiles and raise our hands, typical in Thai culture. This helped the local people welcome us,” the Sasunee said.