BOR, SOUTH SUDAN - Internally displaced persons at a U.N.-protected site in Bor, South Sudan say they’re living in fear after the U.N. Mission in South Sudan withdrew its peacekeepers from the camp recently. A leader of the IDPs said 3,500 families are open to attack by armed criminals.
“U.N. withdrew its troops on September 1st, it didn’t inform us. In the morning we got that there was no military protection inside the Bor POC [Protection of Civilians site]. People are moving from block to block because of fear. They abandoned their places,” Bor IDP leader Makuach Monkem told VOA’s "South Sudan in Focus."
David Shearer, special representative of the U.N. secretary-general in South Sudan, said at a Juba news conference on Friday “after careful planning,” UNMISS began withdrawing its troops from the area because UNMISS believes it is now safe for IDPs to return home.
“There are no longer any uniformed forces inside those sites. That has occurred because we assessed that any threats that might have existed in the past are no longer in existence today,” said Shearer.
Troops that were assigned to the POCs can now be redeployed to “hot spots where people’s lives are in immediate danger, like in Jonglei,” according to Shearer.
Munkem insists a unified force is needed to facilitate the safe return of IDPs because some of their homes are still illegally occupied.
“They say the POC should no longer be protected by the UNMISS and will be handed over to the government. And we ask which government? Because we are now in a unity government and the unity government is not yet completed. There is no deployment of a unified force and even the security arrangement is not complete,” Munkem told VOA.
UNMISS has yet to officially hand over protection of the IDP camp to the government, according to Jonglei state police commissioner Major General Joseph Mayen Akoon.
“Last week I was told there were arrangements that the IDPs were going to be resettled just near our police station there [Pakwau], so we were given a chance so that we sit down and talk about how things will work. But to take over, that was not discussed,” Akoon told "South Sudan in Focus."
If UNMISS wants Jonglei authorities to take over the protection of the IDPs in a U.N.-run camp, it should make arrangements to do so through official communications, said Akoon.