UNMISS forces vacate POC in Wau, Bor

UNMISS forces vacate POC in Wau, Bor

By Kitab Unango
The recent surge in armed conflicts in Equatoria region has compelled the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) peacekeepers to withdraw from two Protection of Civilians Sites (POC) in Wau and Bor to focus on most hostile areas in the country.
Announcing the withdrawal of UNMISS from Wau and Bor POC sites last week, the mission said their forces had to focus on areas with immediate and imminent dangers to civilians as there was already reduction in threats of violence to people at POCs.
David Shearer, Special Representative of the Secretary General and Head of UMISS pointed out that civilians living at the former POC will now be under government’s protection to ensure their safety or help them return homes to continue their lives like other civilians in the country.
“This occurred because we assessed that, any threat that existed a few years ago, are no longer existing today. Importantly, withdrawing from these sites means those troops who were occupied at the POC can be redeployed to hotspots where people’s lives are in immediate danger like in Lobonok,” said Shearer.
There are over two hundred thousand civilians living at the protection sites of civilians in five places including Juba, Malakal, Bentiu, Wau and Bor who had sought UN protection during the conflict, most of whom women, elderly people and children.
Shearer said the government will now take primary responsibility of the people in the former POC sites or facilitate their return to rebuild their homes by ensuring that those whose houses are occupied are vacated.
“The Transitional Government of South Sudan has a primary responsibility for protecting all civilians and they will, of course extend their protection to those in the former POC sites where the protection is missing.”.
“It will be the government’s responsibility to find other land for these people to settle, to help them to return or assist those whose houses are occupied by others,” said Shearer.
People seeking protection of UN in Wau and Bor are yet to comment on the matter.
Last week, UNMISS said it has established a temporary operating base in Lobonok following prevalent attacks by suspected forces of National Salvation Front (NAS) in Central Equatoria State.
There have been reports of armed attacks on civilians and humanitarian workers along major roads in Equatoria along Juba-Yei road that resulted into killing, looting and hindering relief delivery to thousands people in need in the country
Last month, six bodyguards of the Vice President for Economic Cluster, Dr. James Wani Iggaa were killed in an ambush along Juba-Lobonok Road and wounded others. NAS forces claimed responsibility of the incident which amounted to the violation of the 2018 cessation of hostility agreement.

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