Preventing conflict starting or speedily mitigating its effects on civilians through temporary bases in hotspots is a key priority for the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
“Our aim is to make sure our Blue Helmets are agile and can respond swiftly where conflict has the potential to flare up. We designed operations around what in military-speak is called a ‘hub and spoke’ model. Instead of restricting ourselves to more established bases in single locations, we developed a system by which we can be mobile in response to evolving security threats and have boots on the ground where most needed with minimum delay,” Lieutenant-General Shailesh Tinaikar, UNMISS Force Commander, said.
Koch County in Unity State is one such volatile area, where UNMISS peacekeepers reduced incidents such as cattle raids, revenge killings and robberies.
During a recent visit to South Sudan UN Military Advisor, General Birame Diop, was in Koch, accompanied by Tinaikar.
His visit had the dual purpose of discussing concerns with community members and encouraging Ghanaian peacekeepers stationed there.
“We were deeply touched that the community of Koch County came out as one to welcome us. This show of support means much to our peacekeepers who battle inclement weather to make sure you are protected and can continue daily activities without fear,” he said.
Diop toured the temporary base and commended Ghanaian peacekeepers for their commitment. “The work you do daily under difficult conditions is testament to your dedication to a durable peace for communities across South Sudan. The relationships of trust and confidence built with the citizens of Koch and humanitarian partners are admirable.”
Captain Evan Ekow Ampah, temporary base commander, said it was a difficult but a rewarding experience.
“We faced enormous challenges: potable water is scarce and tents keep flooding because of heavy rains. We continuously move our tents to higher ground so we are able to continue our duties. Rains also rendered many roads near inaccessible hampering patrol efficiency. We persevere and do everything possible to maintain calm and stability.”