Friday, 6th March 2015

Tribal conflict in South Sudan forces people to live like refugees at home

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Juba (South Sudan), April 12: People of South Sudan, the world's youngest nation, are living a life of internal refugees due to a tribal conflict that has paralysed the country for the past four months.

Two tribes-Dinka and Neur- have engaged in the armed struggles since December 15, 2014, throwing the entire public life out of gear. Uncountable number of people have so far lost their lives to the ongoing racial conflict, but over 75,000 people have flocked to the United Nations (UN) Office here, seeking refuge.

As per the UN Protection of Civilians (PoC) policy, the UN peace keeping mission has arranged a temporary shelter in group for the Sudanese displaced by the armed conflict, in which the role of Nepali peace keeping force is significant.

Sudan had been liberated as a colony of Britain and Egypt in 1956, following a struggle of 50 years. It went to referendum on July 9, 2011 as per the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Accord and was divided into North Sudan and South Sudan.

The UN Missions have been working here since 2011 and the Nepal Army (NA) peace keeping force is included in the UNMIS since the beginning, Lieutenant Colonel Sanukaji Thapa who is currently deployed at Juba, the capital city of South Sudan, told the high-level delegation from Nepal.

Around 1,200 NA peace keeping force and over 300 Armed Police Force and Nepal Police have been deployed at six high conflict-prone zones- Juba, Rumbek, Malakal, Bor, Pibor and Melut, it is learnt. In addition to Nepal, other over three dozen countries including India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya, Mongolia and Cambodia have sent security personnel to Sudan for security and development purposes as well. NA peace keeping force has a leading role in military patrol in the conflict-hit areas which has given a sense of security to the conflict- hit Sudanese.

Leader of the temporary camp for the internally displaced people at Rumbek, Samuel Paul and woman leader of the camp, Nyapal Domai, shared with the Nepali delegation that the Nepalese Army was popular with the locals due to the friendly nature, bravery, high discipline, readiness to take risk and active involvement in social works of its soldiers.

Chief of the Nepalese Army (NA)'s Indrabaks Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Bharat Chandra Gurung, related an interesting context of a Neur tribe couple christening their new-born son's name as 'Nepal Choya', in honour of the Nepali army doctor and nurses who saved the woman's life at child birth at the Rumbek Camp which is under the supervision of the Indrabaks Battalion.

The Ranasingh Battalion has reached Rumbek to replace the Indrabaks Battalion Peacekeeping Force (Force Reserve Battalion) Third Contingent under the leadership of Lieutenant Colonel Ram Chandra Karki. Similarly, the Arjunban Battalion led by Lieutenant Colonel Bhuwan Khatri has reached Juba, the capital of South Sudan, to replace the Bhirav Battalion.

The high-level delegation led by Director of the Nepalese Army Public Relations Directorate, Brigadier General Jagadish Chandra Pokharel comprised of Lieutenant Colonel Indra Bahadur Shah and Captain Pradip Upadhyaya from the Army side and representative of the Ministry of Defence Baburam Poudel, Chief Editor of the Rastriya Samachar Samiti (RSS) Shreeram Singh Basnet, Editor-in-Chief of the Nagarik national daily Prtateek Pradhan, Chief Editor of Sanghu Weekly Gopal Budhathoki, news chief at Radio Nepal Khagendra Khatri and correspondent with the Naya Ptrika national daily Nawaraj Mainanli from the civilian side.

Brig. Gen. Pokharel said the main objective of taking the high level Nepalese delegation on an observation tour of South Sudan is to directly familiarize the members of the delegation about the works and activities carried out by the Nepali peacekeeping force in that country and through them, to the Nepali people and to solicit suggestions for making the role of the Nepalese peacekeeping force further effective.

The delegation returned home last night after carrying out a field observation of the role played by the different battalions of the Nepalese Army peacekeeping forces stationed in various conflict hotspots of South Sudan.

Nepalese Army has deployed its units on peacekeeping duty in 12 countries at the call of the United Nations. Peacekeeping in South Sudan has been found especially challenging compared to other countries due to the nature of the conflict and the attitude of the sides of the conflict.



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