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Fourty nine peacekeepers killed In line of duty since 2011-UNMISS

As the United Nations commemorate international day of UN peacekeepers, Special Representative of the Secretary General said 49 UNMISS staff members have lost their lives since 2011 while serving the mission in the country.

David Shearer said out of the 49 peacekeepers that have died in the country in their line of duty, at least eight were killed last year alone.

“Since 2011, when UNMISS was established, 49 staff members have lost their lives while serving the Mission. In 2016, eight UNMISS staff died in the service of peace. Today we honor their memory,” he said.

He said during the July 2016 fighting, two Chinese nationals UN peacekeepers lost their lives in Juba.

Shearer made the statement yesterday at the UN house as UNMISS commemorates the international day of UN peacekeepers saying that out of the 16 peace missions around the world, UNMISS is the most “difficult and complex” one.

“Operationally our mission is complex, perhaps the most complex UN peace keeping operation in the world. We ultimately have two tasks; to protect civilians and to build a durable peace,” he said.

He said the military and the police currently protect 230,000 civilians in six Protection of Civilians (PoC) sites and beyond adding that the presence of the military had enabled human rights to be monitored.

He said much of the work of UNMISS in the country is not being acknowledged by the local authorities in the country.

“Much of our work in UNMISS is unsung. It can be as simple as walking for hours alongside women who are collecting firewood for their families so that they are not raped. It can mean spending hours – and often nights – at checkpoints refusing to turn back when they are blocked from achieving their mission. Or it can mean standing up to a military force – as our Mongolian battalion did recently – to successfully rescue young boys from being abducted as recruits,” Shearer said.

He said Some 12,000 military personnel, 1500 police and 2500 civilians, including nearly 400 of UN volunteers currently perform their duties under the UN flags in different locations across the country.

Shearer added that South Sudanese have fought for decades for their independence and sovereignty. “But as all governments, sovereignty comes responsibility. Responsibility to enable the citizens to believe in their homes in peace, for their children to go to school and look forward to a brighter future,” Shearer said.

“It is my profound hope that 2017 will be the year of peace to prevail for the people. UNMISS stands ready to be a partner in this endeavor,” he added.

By Morris Dogga

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