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UN chief assures IDPs in Bentiu and Malakal of protection

October 19, 2020 (JUBA) – The head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), David Shearer has reassured internally displaced persons in Malakal and Bentiu of protection from the UN.

David Shearer (UN photo)

He made the remarks during official visits to the two towns last week.

“I know that some people are nervous about the transition of POC sites into conventional camps for displaced people,” said Shearer.

He added, “But I want those who are displaced to know that UNMISS is here. We are not going anywhere. We are committed to providing protection and peace-building across the region.”

The senior UN official was making the first visit to the camps following announcements that the mission was withdrawing its peacekeepers.

During last week’s tour, the UNMISS boss prioritized meetings with displaced communities living in the protection sites next to UN bases.

Thousands of people fled into UN bases when fighting broke out in South Sudan in mid-December 2013. The peacekeeping mission opened its gates to provide them sanctuary and established what are known today as protection of civilians’ sites.

While on his visit to Bentiu, Shearer spent time at the joint police control centre where local law enforcement are working closely with UN police to protect citizens.

“Our hope is that displaced communities get to experience this freedom and security as well and can ultimately return to their former homes to rebuild their lives,” he stressed.

UNMISS replaced the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) whose mandate expired after South Sudan’s independence in July 2011 when six year interim period of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) ended.

(ST)