Residents of Yei town have commended the presence of peacekeepers from Nepal and Ethiopia from the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), saying it has helped them to witness a month-long period of relative calm.
UNMISS established a base in Yei to improve security in the once restive town, and to make it possible for peacekeepers to patrol villages that would have been impenetrable without a base in the area.
UN peacekeepers from several contingents will be rotated on short term assignments through the Yei base. Nepalese peacekeepers are currently at the base, after replacing Ethiopians who completed their deployment there. Local residents offered high praise for the efforts of the “Blue Helmets.”
Agnes Kiden, a mother of three, said she now felt a sense of relief from the trauma caused by the ongoing fighting in the state, thanks to the presence of the peacekeepers. Her hope started increasing nearly three years ago, when the blue helmets first set their boots in Yei town, following the escalation of fighting in the area. “When nights set in those days, you would be imagining who the next prey of the killers could be, and when you heard gunshots in the neighborhoods,” according to Ms. Kiden.
Simon Juma, a 26-year old resident of Yei, could still recall a period of hardship in the town, when armed elements were roaming the streets, kidnapping, raping, robbing, beating and stealing everything they could come across. “Now that has changed,” Mr. Juma said.
According to Peter Seeid, the Paramount Chief of Yei, “We have not received any complaints about armed robbers knocking on the doors of civilians in the town – since the opening of the UN office on 25 January. Civilians now have the free will to continue with their daily chores up to 9 p.m. We are so thankful to UNMISS for deploying its force protection unit here. I can now proudly say that life is returning to normalcy in the town, as children can now go back to school, and the sick to hospital. The people no longer live in fear”.
Nepal, the 6th largest contributor of peacekeepers to the United Nations, currently deploys more than 2,000 military and police personnel to South Sudan.