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UN Announces Reinforcement of AU Task Force in South Sudan

United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) Special Representative to Secretary-General (SRSG) Hilde Johnson, March 6, 2012.
The United Nations Special Representative and head of the U.N. Mission in South Sudan Hilde Johnson announced in Yambio that Rwandese troops will join the African Union task force to hunt down the top commanders of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

During her first visit to Yambio, Johnson met with state officials to discuss security and agricultural potentials in the region. She said that her office is working to help protect Western Equatoria state from future LRA violence.

"We have seen attacks lately but we have deployed our Rwandese troops," she said. "[We] will help in boosting agriculture of the state, Rwandese troops [will be] in three locations of Tambura, Ezo and Yambio."

"They will be in long and short distance range patrols [and] they will work closely with the communities and try to protect as best they can. We will [also] work closely with the African Union Regional task Force and American advisors," she added.

Yambio, the capital of Western Equatoria state, is the headquarters of the recently launched African Union LRA task force. It was launched in March to hunt down the remnants of the brutal ragtag army, using 5,000 soldiers from Uganda, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

The leader of the LRA, Joseph Kony, has in the past launched attacks in Western Equatoria state, kidnapping and killing many civilians. But forces from the Central African Republic and the DRC have still not been fully deployed, leaving the AU force short-staffed.

Johnson says the Rwandese troops have been deployed as they await the arrival of new forces. Johnson did not specify how many Rwandese troops would be deployed.

The governor of Western Equatoria state, Bangasi Joseph Bakosoro, welcomed Johnson's visit and the announcement of additional forces. He told reporters that his state is still waiting to see results from the AU task force.

"They are here three months [now] and we have not seen what they [have] done, their mandate was to use force against the LRA. I understand that they don't have funding now, and the forces which [were] to [assemble] in one place have not yet gathered," he said.

The governor said he hoped the task force would eventually provide the state with real protection against the LRA. He also welcomed United Nations efforts to rehabilitate roads in the state and rebuild the airstrip in Yambio.