Juba, South Sudan, 29 May 2021 – The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has lost at least 83 peacekeepers since the start of operation in Africa’s youngest nation on 9th July 2011.
UNMISS staff have been targeted in recent years as they carry out their duties, especially in remote parts of South Sudan where inter-communal violence reigns supreme.
Speaking at the International Day of UN Peacekeepers in Juba Friday, UNMISS Head of Mission, Nicholas Haysom, paid tribute to the fallen men and women in uniform.
“We pay particular tribute to the 83 peacekeepers who have lost their lives since the inception of UNMISS, including 18 of our colleagues who have passed away in the last year,” he said.
“They have made the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of peace. We honor and remember them as well as their families and friends who have lost a loved one while serving under the UN flag,” Mr. Haysom added.
Haysom, who replaced David Shearer this year, said UNMISS faces enormous challenges in carrying out its duties in South Sudan like in many parts of the world. These hurdles, he says, were compounded by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“Like all other peacekeeping missions, we are facing the great challenges of delivering on our mandate while supporting the National-led effort to respond to COVID-19,” he said. “The virus continues to pose a significant threat to us all. But it will not deter us from our efforts to support South Sudan in its quest for peace.”
The UNMISS Head of Mission held a series of meetings with sub-national authorities and they all echoed the need to prevent the ravaging violence, which has not spared aid workers.
“During my many meetings with state authorities, their messages were consistent. They need help to prevent subnational conflict, boost infrastructure, and support grassroots efforts towards reconciliation and peace,” Haysom explained.
However, while he calls for support to eliminate intercommunal violence, Haysom said the government and its security forces are fully responsible for the protection of its citizens.
“While we are doing everything we can to help create a secure environment for returnees and refugees, it is first and foremost the responsibility of the Government and its security forces to protect citizens from violence.
“Our military peacekeepers are taking a nimble, robust, and proactive approach to the protection of civilians. We are rapidly deploying troops to conflict hotspots, setting up temporary bases, and intensifying patrols to deter conflict,” Haysom said.