JDF JapanDefenseFocus No.90

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Activities of JSDF Engineering Unit Dispatched to UNMISS
– Looking Back on 5 years and 4 Months –

Activities of JSDF Engineering Unit Dispatched to UNMISS – Looking Back on 5 years and 4 Months –

Background

South Sudan is the newest country in the world, which declared its independence on July 9th, 2011. The United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) was established in response to the conflict between southern and northern Sudan. The Government of Japan (GOJ) had been dispatching staff officers to UNMIS since 2008. With the independence of South Sudan, however, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) was newly established to support the new nation’s building process. At the request for cooperation from the UN, the Government of Japan decided to dispatch staff officers to UNMISS Headquarters and an engineering unit to the capital of Juba after examining the results of a field survey.

Nation Building

Activities of JSDF Engineering Unit Dispatched to UNMISS – Looking Back on 5 years and 4 Months –

In January 2012, the first JSDF engineering unit arrived in South Sudan. The first engineering activity by the unit under the UN mandate for nation building was the installation of a drainage system within UN facilities, starting in March of the same year. Some activities were implemented as part of all-Japan projects, such as the demolition of aging water treatment facilities and road maintenance, in collaboration with ODA and NGOs.

Assistance on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)

Activities of JSDF Engineering Unit Dispatched to UNMISS – Looking Back on 5 years and 4 Months –

In December 2013, fighting erupted between government troops and opposition forces, worsening the local security situation. Given the large number of IDPs from the conflict, the JSDF engineering unit shifted the focus of their activities to assisting IDPs. Around this time, the JSDF engineering unit helped site preparation and reinforcement of fences around the IDP camp within UN areas in Juba. They also provided medical assistance. The security situation again deteriorated in July 2016.

Support for Protection of Civilians Activities

Activities of JSDF Engineering Unit Dispatched to UNMISS – Looking Back on 5 years and 4 Months –

From May 2014, the UN mandate shifted from nation building to the protection of civilians. The JSDF engineering unit continued its engineering activities to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance and support protection of civilians activities, within and outside the UN facilities.

Assignment of so-called “kaketsuke-keigo”

Since the enforcement of the new security legislation in March 2016, preparations including deepening the understanding of the new regulations within JSDF, education of individual personnel and training of trainers were undergoing; with these preparations became ready, the MOD decided to start trainings related to new tasks, so-called “kaketsuke-keigo (use of weapons for coming to the aid of PKO-related individuals under attack)” and “Joint protection of camps” to the 11th batch of the JSDF engineering unit. After the 2-month training, it was confirmed that the knowledge and skills of the personnel for the 11th batch reached appropriate level to conduct these new tasks; in November 2016, the GOJ decided to assign the new tasks to the 11th batch. The significance of the new task assignment is particularly prominent in the 25-year history of the MOD’s participation in PKO.

Activities of JSDF Engineering Unit Dispatched to UNMISS – Looking Back on 5 years and 4 Months –
Activities of JSDF Engineering Unit Dispatched to UNMISS – Looking Back on 5 years and 4 Months –

Withdrawal

Activities of JSDF Engineering Unit Dispatched to UNMISS – Looking Back on 5 years and 4 Months –

In March 2017, the Japanese Government made decision to withdraw the engineering unit by the end of May 2017 because of the progress seen in the process for stabilizing the situation in South Sudan. In addition, we thought it was time to move on to new phase regarding the support of South Sudan and therefore JSDF should put on end to JSDF engineering unit’s activities that had lasted for more than five years.

Activities of JSDF Engineering Unit Dispatched to UNMISS – Looking Back on 5 years and 4 Months –

South Sudan President Kiir expressed his gratitude to the JSDF engineering unit’s contributions to UNMISS activities, saying, “I appreciate the honest and devoted work of the JSDF. The government and people of South Sudan will never forget the contributions made by Japan’s engineering unit.” The JSDF engineering unit’s activities had come to an end, but Japan will continue to dispatch staff officers to UNMISS Headquarters in an ongoing effort to contribute to the peace and stability of South Sudan.

Moreover, Japan plans on taking advantage of its experience in PKO activities to date in order to make even greater contributions to international peace cooperation under the policy of proactive contribution to peace.

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