JDF JapanDefenseFocus No.51

Dispatch of SDF Personnel to South Sudan

Q1 What is South Sudan like?

Dispatch of SDF Personnel to South Sudan

A1.The country is situated in the center of the eastern part of the African continent, and has an area of approx. 640,000 square kilometers (approx. 1.7 times larger than Japan) with a population of approx. 10.84 million (as of 2012). Its capital city is Juba.

South Sudan is the world’s newest country which achieved its independence in July 9th 2011, after the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) period of six years following the end of its long civil war with the north. Since December 2013, armed confrontations between government troops and rebel forces have been continuing. However, the global community has been working hard for the stability of South Sudan. The UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution to reinforce the personnel in the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS), and Japan will continue to engage in this PKO activity.


The CPA is the peace agreement that ended the civil war lasted over 20 years between the Northern and Southern parts of Sudan, which had generated over four million internally displaced people.

Q2 What is the background of dispatching the SDF to South Sudan?

A2.United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) was established after the conclusion of CPA to deal with issues concerning Southern and Northern parts of Sudan. Since October 2008, Japan has dispatched two staff officers on site. At the time of the independence of South Sudan, UNMISS was established by the UN Security Council resolution No.1996 adopted on July 8th, 2011, with the aim of fostering the “state building” of the world’s newest state.

After receiving requests concerning cooperation to UNMISS from the UN, the three on-site field surveys were conducted from September to October for the consideration of dispatching staff officers and an engineer unit.

After examining safety of dispatched personnel and availability of conducting effective activities, a decision was made to dispatch three staff officers and an engineer unit.

Q3 What is the significance of dispatching SDF personnel to South Sudan?

A3.After achieving its independence, fulfilling CPA, and ending the long civil war, South Sudan is now going through a crucial period for its state building. Securing peace and stability of South Sudan is a very important agenda for global community and each country must tackle it. As a country rich in natural resources, South Sudan’s development by making the most of its potential will contribute to the stability of the whole African continent. It is also important to enhance relationship with South Sudan in terms of promoting Japan’s African diplomacy.

As a responsible member of global community, Japan should proactively engage in state building with other major countries. Especially, personnel contribution such as infrastructure development has a great significance since it will contribute to the state building of South Sudan as well as respond to the UN’s request. It will also be an opportunity to demonstrate the SDF’s high performance to the world, and contribute to the enhancement of Japan’s reliability.

Dispatch of SDF Personnel to South Sudan
Dispatch of SDF Personnel to South Sudan

Q4 What kind of personnel has been dispatched from the SDF to South Sudan?

A4.“Staff officer” and “engineer unit” have been dispatched to South Sudan. Regarding the “staff officer,” two members (an information officer and a logistics officer) in November 2011 and one member (an engineering officer) in January 2012 were dispatched. Three officers work in the UNMISS Headquarters in Juba.

The “engineer unit” has been dispatched since January 2012 to engage in the construction of infrastructure such as roads and the site preparation. Currently, there are approx. 400 personnel dispatched.

The “coordination section” is specialized in coordination tasks. The team in Juba is conducting coordination and consultation related to activities of the engineer unit with the UN, the South Sudan Government and relevant organizations organizations so as to ensure effective activities that can contribute to the state building of South Sudan. A contingent of the coordination section is set up in the neighboring Uganda for logistics support coordination.

Until the deployment of the 5th engineer unit (from May to December 2013) there were two units on-site, the engineer unit and the coordination center. After a year and a half of their deployment, the operation procedure has been established. Then the coordination center unit was integrated into the engineer unit as an coordination section, since the information unification, enhanced coordination between operations and logistics side, and smooth communication in the case of emergency became more crucial due to the expansion of activity areas.

Q5 Specifically, what activities are the SDF engineer unit doing there?

A5.The engineer unit started their first engineer activity such as drainage development in the UN facilities on March 1st, 2012. Subsequently, they started road improvement in Juba as one of their first engineer activities outside the UN facilities on April 2nd. Furthermore, they started cooperation with international organizations on June 2012, and also started collaboration with ODA projects that aim to support more sustainable and independent socioeconomic development. Such cooperation will make it possible to contribute to activities more beneficial for the local communities.

Since December 2013, there have been armed confrontations and collisions between the government troops and rebel forces, generating a large number of IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons). While paying close attention to the service members’ security, the SDF is currently conducting various activities to support IDPs at the UN facilities located in Juba. The engineer unit has been engaging in the construction of IDP camps and peripheral fences at the UN House.

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