Juba, South Sudan | The latest deployment of British troops has arrived in South Sudan to continue support to the United Nations (UN) Peacekeeping mission, the defence ministry said on Tuesday.
An additional 35 UK military personnel will join the current UK presence providing support to the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). This latest arrival means around 240 British personnel are now based in South Sudan, primarily split between Malakal and Bentiu in support of UNMISS.
“This latest addition to the British contingent will provide engineering support to the UN mission, undertaking projects such as the construction of a jetty on the River Nile, helicopter landing sites and other infrastructure improvements, and will be based mainly in Malakal,” the statement said.
“In particular, the Royal Engineers will support the construction of a temporary field hospital in Bentiu. On completion of this, a permanent hospital facility, which will support over 1,800 UN peacekeepers and UN staff, will be constructed. These hospitals will be staffed by medical personnel drawn from all three services.”
“Along with a small number of staff officers in the UNMISS headquarters in Juba, the total number of UK military deployed will rise to nearly 400 over the coming months, making it one of the UK’s largest operational deployments across the world.”
A statement said the first of the British troops arrived in Juba “proudly wearing their distinctive blue UN berets”
— Radio Miraya (@RadioMiraya) May 2, 2017
The British contingent, the first to join the 13,000-member UNMISS force since it was set up in 2011, is made up of medics and military engineers.
The engineers will be deployed at UN camps housing displaced civilians in Bentiu and Malakal in the north, where they will help improve routes, security and drainage.
Almost 80 medics will staff a hospital in Bentiu that provides care for civilians as well as for the 1,800 UN peacekeepers based there.
The deployment of the troops comes three weeks after Britain’s International Development Minister Priti Patel said the targeted killings of specific ethnic groups in South Sudan amounted to “genocide”.
But the decision to join UNMISS dates back to the former government headed by David Cameron.
After gaining independence from Sudan in 2011, the country descended into war in December 2013, leaving tens of thousands dead and more than 3.5 million people displaced.
More than 1.9 million people are internally displaced and more than 1.7 million have fled to safety across the country’s borders.
In February, South Sudan and the United Nations formally declared a famine in parts of northern Unity State affecting 100,000 people, a disaster UN officials said was “man-made” and could have been averted.