Fritz Baffour ( middle) with the soldiers
The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General (SRSG) for the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), says the visit by the special Ghana government delegation to the war-torn country was ‘very opportune.’
Ms. Hilde F. Johnson, the Special Representative, therefore assured the Ghanaian soldiers at the UNMISS Headquarters in Juba, South Sudan, of the UN’s support to accomplish the task ahead.
Following news that the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) had confiscated weapons and other necessary items from the Ghanaian contingent who were in the war-torn country for peacekeeping operations and left them stranded, the government sent an eight-member delegation, led by Ebenezer Okletey Terlabi, Deputy Minister for Defence, to intervene.
A news release issued in Accra and signed by Lt. Colonel E. Aggrrey-Quashie, Acting Director Public Relations of the GAF, said Ms. Johnson was emphatic that both the government of South Sudan and the UN system had agreed that the incident had resulted out of human error and that the elements that were rather hostile were now contained and there were positive relations between UNMISS and the government system.
‘I want to assure you that this is good timing. I believe we have passed the difficult period and that is why I think your visit now comes at an opportune time,’ the release quoted her as saying.
The released said Ms. Johnson confirmed that at the time of the meeting the South Sudan government had given the permission and the weapons had been flown to the Ghanaian detachment in Bentiu.
‘You have almost 90,000 internally displaced people within our bases who also need to be catered for by the same engineers. So the capacity of the mission has been totally overstretched,’ she told the delegation.
The release disclosed that she had explained that ‘this was one of the reasons why the deployment of the Ghanaian contingent was staggered in three separate states – Juba in Central Equatorial State, Rumbek in Lakes State and Bentiu in Unity State.’
According to the release, Ms Johnson added that with the latest fighting and far more internally displaced persons seeking UN shelter, the bulk of the Ghanaian contingent in Rumbek would be withdrawn to Juba to conduct Protection of Civilians (POC) tasks until their accommodation and other structures had been completed in Bentiu before they will finally deploy to their permanent locations.
The release said Major Gen R.K. Opoku-Adusei, Chief of the Army Staff, had responded that the delegation was satisfied with the latest turn of events and that even though they were not expecting anything different, the mission of the delegation was to help influence the situation at the diplomatic level.
Other members of the delegation were Fritz Baffour, Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Defence and Interior; Brig Gen A.K. Yeboa, Director General International Peace Support Operations at the General Headquarters, among others.
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