KATHMANDU: Nepali peacekeeper continues to play a crucial role in maintaining peace and stability in the war-torn nation, South Sudan, the youngest country in the world. Nepali Army was first deployed in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) as a Force Reserve Battalion, in 2011. Later, it was expanded with one Surge Battalion and one High Readiness Company.
Protection of Civilians (POC) is the core mandate of the mission and has about 20,000 peacekeepers from 73 different countries across the world. It is categorized by the UN as one of the most complicated UN peacekeeping missions.
The increased participation of Nepali peacekeepers in the peacekeeping missions indicates its reliability and credibility in the international community. As such, Nepal sits as the fourth largest troops contributing countries (TCC) to the United Nations.
Over 4, 00,000 people have already lost their lives while another millions have been displaced, due to the conflict. The continued mistrust between President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar, present vice president, led to further turmoil, which resulted in the continuation of the conflict between disgruntled rebel groups and national armed forces.
The Nepali peacekeepers remain pivotal for the maintaining peace and to carry out the mission mandates in South Sudan. The last operation by Nepali peacekeepers in Lainya area managed to garner admiration and support of the local population.
After an outbreak of a violent clash between the rebel force- National Salvation Front (NAS) and local residents which left 13 dead, and with the worsening of the situation, Nepali peacekeepers established a Temporary Operating Base (TOB) to cease further violence. By conducting various operations in areas of Lainya, Lourubang and Loka, the Nepali peacekeepers and the local administration managed to normalize the situation.
Lieutenant Colonel Sushil Pyakurel, Commanding Officer of the Gorakh Bahadur Battalion (7th Batt), deployed in Juba said, “The Nepali Peacekeepers have been operating through temporary operating bases to mitigate probable violence which generally occurs during dry seasons as a result of migration of cattle across South Sudan. These kinds of peacekeeping operations have helped to develop the trust and confidence among the local residents in South Sudan.”
Meanwhile, recently, the Nepali peacekeepers established a TOB in Cueibet, a County in the Lakes State, as a part of a proactive measure to build confidence among local communities and prevent potential inter-communal conflicts. Furthermore, when the ethnic clashes between two major groups Dinka and Nuer were imminent in the Cueibet area, the Nepali peacekeepers established a checkpoint and intervened to protect the civilians in support of South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF).
The prompt response by the Nepali peacekeepers deterred the imminent violence in the area which was appreciated by the United Nations and the South Sudanese government.
Additionally, Nepali female peacekeepers also have been doing remarkable job in the UN mission in South Sudan. Currently, 52 Nepali female peacekeepers are serving in the UNMISS mission. Female Engagement Team of Nepali peacekeeping units are frequently conducting community engagement and gender-sensitive outreach activities to ensure safe environment for the women, the most vulnerable population in the conflict. Similarly, in 2015, Nepali women peacekeepers drew wide attention and appreciation when 11 of them joined a group of 40 peacekeepers and took part in BARGE operation, logistic convoy in the Nile River from Juba, the capital city to Malakal and Melut covering 1,700 kilometers.
As a result of the Nepali peacekeepers’ praiseworthy operations in South Sudan, Lieutenant-General Shailesh Tinaikar, the UNMISS Force Commander praised the Nepali peacekeepers serving UNMISS. “The highest standard of professionalism, dedication and devotion while dealing with the duties and responsibilities bestowed upon them by exceeding the core standards of the United Nations,” he said. (Courtesy: Nepal Army)