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Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

In response to the escalating conflict in war-torn Sudan, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has assumed a crucial role in safeguarding the transportation of essential supplies to the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA). With traditional supply routes through Port Sudan compromised, supplies are now being transported from Mombasa, Kenya, through South Sudan to reach Abyei, UNMISS reported.

Despite the relatively lower intensity of conflict in parts of South Sudan compared to neighboring Sudan, concerns persist regarding the safety of truck drivers and peacekeepers in certain areas. Recent spikes in banditry and the proliferation of illegal checkpoints, particularly in places like Twic County and Abeimnom, pose significant risks. Several drivers have already fallen victim to attacks, resulting in fatalities.

UNMISS disclosed that its peacekeepers from Bangladesh have commenced escorting the convoys. Squadron Leader Pardon Maturure, a Zimbabwean Blue Helmet, detailed the challenges involved in coordinating these operations, emphasizing the complexities arising from negotiating armed checkpoints. “Moving with up to 60 vehicles to protect vulnerable drivers is no small feat,” he remarked, noting that what should be a two-day journey often extends to nearly a week.

Amidst these challenges, Edwin Njogu, a driver participating in a 55-vehicle convoy destined for the disputed region of Abyei, attested to the grim reality of the situation. He recounted frequent encounters with burnt-out and bullet-ridden trucks along the route, underscoring the persistent threats faced by convoy personnel.

In addition to accompanying the convoys, UNMISS military observers maintain close coordination with South Sudan security forces to ensure government support for these large-scale movements. UNMISS emphasized the critical nature of these efforts, highlighting that the transportation of essential aid is not only vital for the people of Abyei but also for residents in other conflict-affected areas of South Sudan grappling with climate-induced challenges and insecurity.

UNMISS reiterated that without the security provided by peacekeepers, vital supplies may fail to reach their intended recipients, underscoring the imperative of ongoing protection measures amid the volatile regional landscape.

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