SDF's Contribution to UNMISS
-UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan-
- Q1. What is South Sudan like?
- Q2. What is the background for dispatch of the SDF to South Sudan?
- Q3. What is the significance of dispatching the SDF personnel to South Sudan?
- Q4. What kind of personnel has been dispatched to South Sudan?
- Q5. Where does the SDF engineer unit conduct its activities?
- Q6. What specific activities does the SDF engineer unit engage in?
- Q7. What is the planned period of SDF activities?
- Q8. How do the SDF personnel on site maintain their health?
- Q9. What are daily lives of the SDF personnel like?
- Q10. What are the difficulties with engineering activities on site?
A1. South Sudan is a land lock country in the eastern part of the African continent, with its capital city in Juba. The country has an area of approx. 640,000 square km (approx. 1.7 times larger than Japan) and a population of approx. 11.3 million (as of 2013).
South Sudan is the newest country in the world which achieved its independence on July 9th, 2011, after the long civil war between the north and south of Sudan, and after the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) period that followed.
Since December 2013, political disorder has occurred within the country. Subsequently, peace negotiations were commenced, led by Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a regional body in the East Africa region. The negotiations led to partial agreements between the two sides such as the establishment of a transitional government. The UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution to reinforce personnel in the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS). As such, the international community is strongly committed to the stabilization of South Sudan. Japan too, will continuously engage in the PKO activities.
(*) The CPA is a peace agreement that ended the civil war which lasted over 20 years between the north and south, resulting in over four million internally displaced persons.
A2. Japan had dispatched two staff officers since October 2008 to UN Missions in Sudan (UNMIS) which was established after the conclusion of Comprehensive Peace Agreement to deal with issues concerning southern and northern parts of Sudan. At the time of the independence of South Sudan, UNMISS was established by the UN Security Council resolution 1996 adopted on July 8th, 2011, with the aim of assisting nation-building of the world's youngest country.
In response to UN requests for cooperation in UNMISS, the MOD carried out on-site field surveys three times from September to October 2011 in order to consider dispatch of staff officers and an engineer unit.
Consequently, the MOD decided to dispatch three staff officers and an engineer unit after thorough examinations into safety of personnel and possibility of effective activities. Later in October 2014, the MOD decided to additionally send one more staff officer.
A3. South Sudan finally attained its independence in July 2011 after the long civil war and the implementation of the CPA. However, after three and a half years since the independence, the country now faces a great challenge of resolving the domestic political turmoil in its process of nation-building. As a country rich in natural resources, peace and stability of South Sudan is very significant for the African continent as well as the whole world. The entire international community needs to work together on this matter.
As a responsible member of the global community, Japan should proactively engage in realizing the peace and stability of South Sudan in coordination with major countries. In particular, personnel contribution in Japan's area of expertise, such as engineering activities, is of great significance since it will contribute to the peace and stability of South Sudan, while responding to the UN's requests. It is also an opportunity to demonstrate the SDF's high performance to the world and thereby contributing to the enhancement of Japan's reliability.
A4. SDF staff officers and the engineer unit have been dispatched to South Sudan.
A total of four staff officers work in the UNMISS Headquarters in Juba. Two members (information officer and logistics officer) have been dispatched since November 2011. Later, one officer (engineering officer) was added in February 2012, followed by another one (air operation officer) in January 2015.
The engineer unit has been dispatched since January 2012 to engage in the construction of infrastructure such as roads and the site preparation. As of March 2015, approx. 350 personnel are stationed in South Sudan.
A5. Approx. 350 personnel are currently engaging in engineer activities in the capital of Juba.
A6. On March 1st in 2012, the SDF engineer unit started its first engineer activity such as drainage construction within the UN sites. The unit started road improvement in Juba on April 2nd as its first engineer activities outside the UN facilities.
From June 2012, the engineer unit started cooperation with the international organizations. From October of that year, the unit began working with ODA projects that aim to support more sustainable and independent socioeconomic development of South Sudan. Through these cooperation, it is anticipated that the MOD/SDF will be able to engage in the PKOs more effectively, and thereby making further contributions to activities beneficial for local communities.
Since December 2013, political disorder has occurred within the country, creating a large number of internally displaced persons. Thus right after the crash the SDF provided assistance to the IDPs through activities such as IDP site preparation, reinforcement of UN facilities where they were evacuating and through medical service. Currently the SDF are continuing its contribution on protection of civilians activities through tasks such as road preparation and site preparation.
A7. The current plan stipulates that the mandate of UNMISS ends in May 2015. Accordingly, dispatch of SDF unit is set to conclude at the end of August in view of the prospective period necessary for withdrawal.
However, as UNMISS is established to support nation-building of South Sudan, the period was extended every year. Since May 2014, the UNMISS mandate has been extended every six months. Therefore, it is conceivable that the stipulated period will be extended depending on the future discussions at the UN. In that case, the MOD/SDF will determine the period of SDF dispatch again based on the situations in South Sudan at the time and achievements of SDF activities.
A8. The dispatched personnel strive to lead a healthy life to prevent diseases by keeping regular hours based on daily routines that are similar to the ones carried out back in Japan, taking self-catering Japanese style food, and doing adequate exercise every day.
Personnel are provided with health education for prevention of infectious diseases peculiar to the African continent. The dispatched unit includes health officers such as doctors and holds a medical office of their own where they can treat SDF personnel.
During the dispatch, personnel undergo a temporary medical examination to check their health conditions. Additionally, psychiatrists are regularly dispatched to the site all the way from Japan to support mental health of personnel.
A9. Personnel work from 7:30 AM to 5 PM, carrying out engineer work and other activities. Outside the working hours, personnel spend their time on activities such as to exercise to build strength or communication with their family back in Japan using Internet telephone service.
As of March 2015, personnel reside in container houses in the Japanese camp. Their living environments are appropriately developed as their camps are equipped with canteen, bathing facilities, gym, and others.
A10. The daytime temperature in South Sudan remains high throughout the year. Personnel have to get used to the heat as they engage in activities under a blazing sun. Also, South Sudan has a dry season and a rainy season. Once the rainy season sets in, it rains heavily throughout the day. The unit sometimes has to reexamine the activity schedule due to the nature of soil obtained and used for engineering on site that become too weak when it gets wet, in addition to the influence caused by a rainfall itself.
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