March 5, 2021(Nyamilepedia) — South Sudan’s Defense minister, Angelina Teny, has raised alarm that there will be no graduation of the unified forces as most soldiers have abandoned cantonments due to lack of food.
The minister who is also the SPLM-IO chairperson of security and defense forces in a resigned tone explained that this was owed to soldiers abandoning cantonment as a result of hunger and lack of supplies.
“I don’t even want to talk about cantonment because cantonments have been abandoned because of food. Maybe people will only come back once food logistics is provided,” said the minister.
The minister noted that failure to graduate the unified forces is a major blow towards the implementation of the security arrangements.
The revitalized peace agreement prescribes the cantonment, screening and training of 83,000 soldiers. These are deemed necessary to form the Unified Forces to safeguard the peace deal.
She observed that there are 34 cantonment sites identified by the Joint Defense Board all across the country. In most of these cantonments, soldiers are forced to sleep under trees and shelter with locals in their mud huts known as “Tukuls” when it starts to rain.
According to Angelina, some of those soldiers are women and they too have to live under such conditions. She observed that shelter, water and medication among others are not guaranteed and thus pushing the soldiers to abandon the cantonments.
The government has been pointing accusing fingers at the soldiers and trainees only accepting partial responsibility for the failure claiming lack of resources.
The soldiers and trainees however rests the blame squarely on the unity government accusing it of outright negligence.
Instructors at Rajaf unified police training center, with about 7,000 government and opposition forces last year said that two trainees died owing to poor hygiene and lack of enough medicines.
Three SPLA-IO officers in Ngiri cantonment site in Amandi too died due to poor sanitation and lack of medicine in October 2019.
This is not the first time that the government has postponed the graduation of the unified forces with the excuse of lack of resources.