25,000 Return To Their Homes As Security Situation Stabilizes In Bentiu, South Sudan

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The United Nation Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said a total of 25,000 people who fled the violence since December 2013 to seek shelter at its base have now returned to their homes as the security situation normalizes in Bentiu.

Ms. Ariane Quentier, UNMISS Spokesperson.[UNMISS Photo]

By Jok P Mayom

JUBA, 01 April 2016 [Gurtong] – Ms. Ariane Quentier, UNMISS Spokesperson told reporters in the United Nation (UN) Mission’s weekly press briefing on Wednesday at the UN House that  in Bentiu, 25,000 people now live in the town because the situation has improved.

She said the security stability comes following the UNMISS establishment of what she described as ‘Forward Operating Base’ (FOB), where civilians are protected in their homes by peace keepers including delivery of services.

“With the delivery of services, people stay or return to their homes like in Bentiu where 25,000 people now live in the town because the situation has improved, and with the peacekeepers’ FOB, they have access to services” said UNMISS spokesperson.

“…..some of the people only make their way to the PoC site when there is food distribution because there is no food in their area and then, they might stay a while or go back” Quentier added.

Quentier also revealed that the UN Mission has also established FOB in Malakal town to support civilians who have left the PoC site and who still need protection and delivery of services.

She said UNMISS not only provides protection but also delivery of services to the displaced people in collaboration with the UN Agencies and NGOs.

Quentier said the idea of reaching the people to their home areas is to manage to keep civilians where they are, like in Wau Shilluk, so they do not have to move to the very much congested PoC sites.

“……if there was delivery of humanitarian assistance in their areas, people would not come to PoC sites” she noted.

UNMISS Spokesperson responded to rreports that the UN Mission is denying protection of the civilians calling it a false accusation.

“UNMISS never declined to protect civilians. We have not declined anything” she said. “We are looking at the situation with the amount of forces that we have and according to our mandate to protect civilians” she said.

She adds, “Our mandate includes engaging with local authorities and projecting our troops outside our bases to identify needs, assess the situation and together with our humanitarian partners decide how to reach out and deliver services to the people instead of having them
coming to our sites”.

UNMISS established the Protection of Civilians (PoC) sites as a last resort measure to temporarily respond to emergencies when the conflict broke out.

“Thousands of civilians under physical threat rushed within a few hours to our bases. They wanted protection from UN peacekeepers; it was a rush in terms of scale, scope, and speed” she described.

“We were not ready in December 2013 to receive so many people but we did open the gates of our bases” said the spokesperson.

She said, UNMISS has around 13,000 troops deployed to protect not only the 188,000 civilians sheltered in the PoC sites but also support within its capacities over 2 million persons displaced in the country.

Quentier said, UNMISS is also projecting forces outside the PoC sites by establishing temporary operating bases (TOB) as in Leer, Mundri and Wau Shilluk.

The fighting that broke-out in December 2013 established the civil population in Bentiu, Former Unity State capital with frequent attacks on the oil rich hub forcing the civilians to seek shelter at the UNMISS Protection of Civilians sites (PoCs).

South Sudan government has been calling on the civilians in all the PoCs and bushes to return to their homes while assuring them of security and stability in the country.

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