IDPs request for security as UN starts packing

By Chany Ninrew

In the wake of a new unity government and a peace implementation that has been remarked as moving at a snail’s pace, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan is withdrawing troops from various Protection of Civilian Sites across the country.

The protection troops and police are to be redeployed in conflict hotspots where civilians live under security threats of communal violence and political conflict.

This is also in a bid to transition the PoCs into ordinary displaced persons camps under the protection of the South Sudan National Police.

The mission stated that “political violence has reduced significantly across the country and as a result, it has begun to progressively withdraw its troops and police from the POC sites in Bor and Wau,” adding that it will gradually do the same at other camps.

However, in a press conference in Juba earlier  this month, UNMISS Chief David Shearer assured that the IDPs will still live in the camps, adding that it will be a government responsibility to find lands for these people to settle or to help them return to their homes.

“Nobody will be pushed out or asked to leave when UNMISS withdraws. Humanitarian services will continue. It is just that the sites will no longer be under our jurisdiction and will be IDP camps, like so many others across the country,” Shearer said.

However, the decision is still a nightmare to over a hundred thousand civilians living in the five UN protection camps across the country.

On Monday, thousands of Internally Displaced Persons in Bentiu PoCS staged another peaceful demonstration asking the world body to reconsider the decision as major security provisions in the agreement have not been implemented.

This followed a series of similar demonstrations by IDPs in Bor and Juba, in a bid to draw international attention to the perceived fear and distrust they have in their own government.

In an interview with Juba Monitor yesterday, Bentiu PoCS Chairman Rup Guol Kulang said the IDPs went to the streets to voice out their concerns about the withdrawal of UNMISS troops.

“We are telling the world that the UN troops should not leave at this time, because if they leave, we may be in a security threats,” Guol said.

He also said that lack of functional state government and local authorities at county levels has brought about an increase in communal violence and revenge killings in various parts of Unity State.

“We have learned that the UN has left Bor and Wau POCS, their troops are partially withdrawn from Juba POCS too, if the decision will reach us one day, it can be very dangerous because gunmen have been coming at night to commit crimes inside the camp, many IDPs have been killed since 2018, and the situation may be worse without the gun control measures by the UN,” Guol said.

The camp leader repeated his call for the UN to leave only when the security situation improves in the state and after the formation of state governments.

Last week, it was also reported that at least 2500 IDPs in Bor Protection of Civilian Site took to the street for the second time against what they called prearranged withdrawal of UN troops from the camp.

The IDPs alleged that a delegation comprising community leaders informed them about an agreement between the governor of Jonglei and UN chief to pull out peacekeeping troops from PoCS.

“Anyone can come and attack us, why do they want to fool us when the security arrangement is not complete, where are the Unified forces now?” asked a protester Makuach Munkem.

The protesters in Bor called on the UN to return and safeguard their security until the security arrangement is in place.

In response to a recent demonstration in Juba POC-3, the UN is planning to hold a meeting between the IDPs and police in Checkpoint in a bid to reinforce trust between the civilians and security organs in the area.

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