Amidst the growing turmoil in South Sudan, the UN has confirmed that an additional 850 Nepal Army personnel are going to be deployed to support the peace process in the country. Of them, 350 army personnel of the Nepal Army are going to be transferred from the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). The army men would be deployed in the field as part of the UN peacekeeping Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
Preventing an ethnic war
The decision to increase the peacekeeping army size comes from the UN amidst a degrading conflict situation in the country. It’s estimated that millions of civilians have been displaced from their homes since the heightening of the conflict. The internal conflict of the country has risen to a serious point since the power tussle between president Salva Kiir and the deposed vice-president, Riek Machar. While Kiir is backed by the ethnic Dinka population to which he belongs, Machar is backed by the ethnic Nuer population. The power tussle between the two has lately escalated into an all-out civil war between members of the two ethnicities. However, on the 24th of January, 2014, a ceasefire agreement between the two opposing parties under the UN’s observation has been reached. Yet, with the view to prevent the conflict from escalating further on the ground, the UN has planned to deploy more peacekeeping forces in the coming days.
The challenge of maintaining peace in the world’s youngest nation
South Sudan was formally declared an independent nation by the UN General Assembly in 2011. It became the youngest nation of the world after years of struggle with Sudan. The country is home to one of the richest reserves of raw petroleum in the world. Yet, because of regular internal and external conflicts, the nation hasn’t been able to prosper so far. With the conflict displacing hundreds of people, the situation has only gotten worse since its start in December, 2013. Two Indian UN peacekeepers were also killed in an attack on a UN base on December 20. So with the ceasefire and the increment in the number of peacekeeping personnel, including the Nepali peacekeeping troops, it is expected that a serious conflict in the future could in fact be averted in South Sudan.