Peacekeepers dispatched by Beijing help in S. Sudan

Source:chinadaily 2022-02-28

Residents of South Sudan's Tonj and Romich towns will soon smoothly access essential services, after rehabilitation of a road linking the two towns by Chinese peacekeepers serving with the United Nations Mission.

Once completed, the 120-kilometer road is expected to boost trade, enable communities to have better access to education and healthcare, as well as enable the UN peacekeeping mission to swiftly address potential conflict, said the UN Peacekeeping in a statement on Wednesday.

Due to poor road conditions in Warrap state in northern South Sudan, local communities have been experiencing the perennial challenge of accessing basic services, especially during long rainy seasons when heavy downpours destroy roads and cut off access to remote locations.

Moreover, the transportation challenges have resulted in delayed humanitarian aid to affected communities when conflicts erupt.

Zhang Jianhui, one of the Chinese peacekeepers deployed to Warrap, said the road rehabilitation was a result of them witnessing the daily struggles that people in the area have to go through, especially farmers and traders, as well as people who need urgent medical attention.

"We are, therefore, extremely happy to be able to help rehabilitate this road, which will boost trade and enable communities to convene and connect," Zhang said.

Essential for missions

Anastasie Mukangarambe, head of the UN Mission in South Sudan's field office in Kuajok, said the road repairs are essential for the mission to fulfill its mandated tasks.

"Our primary focus as peacekeepers is to protect civilians who are at imminent risk of being harmed during conflict," Mukangarambe said.

"To do that, we must be able to reach them on time. These repairs by our Chinese engineers are critical for us to address the security and humanitarian needs of the Greater Tonj population."

Marco Angor Malang Angor, county commissioner of Tonj South, assured the mission's engineers of the local authorities' support in the rehabilitation process. "We are very grateful for the help given to us by Chinese engineers," he said.

The UN Mission in South Sudan said road and infrastructure rehabilitation across South Sudan is part of the mission's efforts to build trust and foster reconciliation among communities.

More than 19,000 UN peacekeepers in the country have played a critical role in protecting civilians and helping the country transition from war to peace.

China has been deploying peacekeeping troops to South Sudan since 2015, consisting of medics, infantrymen and engineers.

China is the biggest contributor of peacekeepers among the five permanent UN Security Council members.

Since 1990, China has sent more than 40,000 military personnel to various peacekeeping missions mainly in Africa. The Chinese embassy in Kenya said over 2,000 Chinese servicemen are currently on active UN duty in the continent.