Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - The East African regional bloc, IGAD, will deploy troops to protect its civilian personnel undertaking Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (MVM) of the ceasefire in South Sudan, Chairman of the IGAD Envoys, Seyoum Mesfin, said here Wednesday.
The small military force to be drawn from Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, Burundi and Rwanda will be mainly mandated to protect the civilian MVM team which is deployed in South Sudan to ensure adherence to Cessation of Hostilities (CoH) agreement reached in January between South Sudanese government and the rebellion.
It will also protect important installations in South Sudan.
“This force can also protect important installations such as …. the oil installations, which is the mainstay of the economy of the country. The parties would be tempted to fight in control of these resources, and if this is protected by this force that definitely it will further stabilize the situation in South Sudan,” Seyoum, a former Ethiopian Foreign Minister for two decades, told journalists in Addis Ababa.
The MVM team couldn't undertake its duties so far because of the insecurity in the South Sudan; hence the stabilizing force from the countries of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) with AU helmets after approval by the AU and the UN Security Council, will enable the MVM team to undertake its duties.
IGAD leaders will discuss the proposal at a summit to be held before negotiations between South Sudan’s government and rebels resume on 20 March, according to Seyoum.
Despite the various approval required before troops deployment, Seyoum said the mission will be the most expedited. “This will be the fastest deployment to see.”
The contributing countries have given “positive response” to requests for participation in the “neutral stabilization and protection force,” Seyoum said. “The size of this force that will be deployed, is very small, so to compare with UN-missions sent to such areas. The reason is we want to make it cost-effective and affordable for the international community to sustain this mission,” he added without specifying who will fund the mission.
He also stated that there will be an additional standby force at military bases of all contributing nations to swiftly deploy if the stabilizing force comes under attack from any side.
Fighting started in South Sudan in mid December, leaving thousands dead and forcing at least 860,000 more to flee their homes in less than two months, according to the UN, which already has more than 8,000 peacekeepers and police in the world’s newest nation.