Internally displaced persons at UN-protected camps in Wau and Bor towns have expressed security concerns after the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) started withdrawing its peacekeepers from the camps recently.
David Shearer, the head of the UN Mission in South Sudan, told reporters in Juba earlier this month that UNMISS has started “to progressively withdraw” its troops and police from Protection of Civilians Sites (POCs) in Bor and Wau towns.
David Shearer explained that any threats that existed a few years ago, are no longer in existence now.
The senior UN official said South Sudan National Police Service (SSNP) will be responsible for law and order in the camps.
Jolid Adot, a leader of the IDPs in Wau, said it was not right to withdraw UN peacekeepers since the revitalized peace agreement is being implemented.
She said the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement is facing several challenges, citing lack of proper security arrangements.
“As women, we are not comfortable. We came here because we felt unsafe, but now UNMISS withdrew its forces without our consent. There is insecurity in Jonglei because of inter-communal violence. Our homes and livelihoods have been destroyed, so there is nowhere to go,” said Tereza John, an IDP sheltering inside the UN base in Bor.
Laat Yak, a youth leader at the UN camp in Bor, urged the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGoNU) to implement the peace agreement to ensure internally displaced are protected.
Makuac Muon, a camp leader in Bor, said the IDPs now feel more vulnerable after UNMISS withdrew troops without their consent. He appealed to the United Nations to reconsider its decision.
Internally displaced persons at UN-protected camps in Juba recently staged peaceful protests against the withdrawal of UN troops.
Doyak Domay, a leader of the IDPs in Juba, urged UN peacekeepers to continue protecting civilians displaced by conflicts.
“The unity government is not fully formed and there are no unified forces to provide protection according to the agreement,” he said.
Edmund Yakani, a renowned civil society activist, described the withdrawal of UNMISS troops as “untimely”.
“Nobody wants to stay in the camp forever. I am not opposing the withdrawal, but we need the rightful time. A well-established security sector is the indicator of the rightful time,” he explained.
The activist said threats on the lives of civilians following the withdrawal of UNMISS troops are likely to affect the implementation of the peace agreement.
The UN camps were set up in Juba and other major cities after civil war erupted in 2013, prompting thousands to seek protection. The sites were set up to protect people in imminent physical danger.