It was an intensive three-days visit for the newly appointed Force Commander of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) as he visited several key military locations in Unity State and the Ruweng Administrative Area.
“What you read in the papers is different from the reality on the ground,” Lieutenant General Mohan Subramanian remarked sagely when he engaged with contingents from four troop contributing countries stationed in Bentiu, Koch, Leer and Pariang.
The objective? To evaluate operational conditions to implement the peacekeeping mission’s mandate.
“To personally assess the situation is essential as it will inform our responses and how to further improve our performance of duties,” the Force Commander said.
The marshy, muddy yet sometimes dusty terrain could not stop him from making progress during his familiarization tour, just as the troops he was visiting do not let anything stop them from doing their job.
“Our presence in Jamjang, Pariang, Koch, Leer and Bentiu is lending a sense of security to the local population and to the fulfilment of the UNMISS mandate. Wherever we are, we are poised to protect civilians and any other task,” the Force Commander assured visiting journalists.
Local residents were excited to welcome the Lieutenant General and hear his views on security.
“The presence of UN peacekeepers in Koch County serves as an assurance to the entire population and the humanitarian actors who are providing services here,” said Gordon Kuong, Koch County Commissioner.
The sentiments were similar in Leer County and in the Ruweng Administrative Area. Every encounter turned into an opportunity to express gratitude to UNMISS troops, and it was one that was grabbed with both hands.
“They [the peacekeepers] have been working tirelessly, day and night, to ensure that our community is safe,” said Stephen Taker, County Commissioner in Leer. “Even though troops rotate every year, their operations remain the same and of high quality. This is what the people want and like,” he added.
The love-in continued in the Ruwent Administrative Area, whose Deputy Chief, Colonel Manytoj Kuel Adurwhile, heaped more praise on the peacekeeping mission’s troops.
“We hold UNMISS in very high regard as our partners in the implementation of the peace agreement. That is why we cooperate well with the disciplined and hardworking Mongolian military who are here,” the Colonel gushed.
The Force Commander liked what he observed.
“I am delighted to note the positive vibes in the communities of Southern Unity and Pariang. I sense a desire for peace in everyone I have interacted with,” he noted, and encouraged residents to keep their spirits high.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).