Urgently form VIP protection force, ceasefire monitors advise
South Sudan’s ceasefire monitors on Wednesday called on the necessary parties to ensure the formation of a VIP protection force and immediate training of the necessary unified forces as a matter of urgency.
Last month, the parties to the revitalized peace deal agreed that at least 50% of the 83,000 necessary unified forces should be cantoned and barracked, trained and deployed before September 30th.
While addressing the 15th CTSAMVM technical committee meeting in Juba, CTSAMVM Chairman Major General Desta Abiche Ageno noted that they do not have any evidence of a VIP force or the training of Necessary Unified Forces.
The official further lamented that although forces registration has started in many cantonment sites and barracks, the process remains slow. Abiche also acknowledged logistical constraints in the process saying many commanders have reported lack of food, shelter, water, and medicines in the cantonment sites.
“Of the 35 cantonment sites identified by JDB, 1 site is not occupied, 10 cantonment barracks are occupied by SSPDF, and 24 by opposition forces. With the exception of Division 1 in Renk, CTSAMVM has received no notification and seen no evidence of SSPDF plans to move forces to cantonment barracks,” Abiche said.
The official also noted with regret that forces continue to occupy civilian buildings despite calls for them to vacate.
“I regret to inform you that four more buildings have been occupied since we last met. The Lora Primary School, Ronyi Primary School, Jambu Primary School, and Wuktebi Primary School – are now occupied by government forces. Only two buildings have been vacated,” he said.
He said 35 civilian buildings are still occupied by government forces and 4 by SPLM/A-IO and urged the parties to vacate the buildings saying it is a violation of the agreement.
For his part SPLA-IO deputy spokesman Lam Paul Gabriel speaking to the press on Wednesday in Juba said they are prepared for the training of VIP Protection force.
“We the IO have prepared 1,400 forces for VIP Protection force that will be brought to Juba. They are ready for training,” he added.
Paul further said the forces in most cantonment sites lack food, shelter, and medicines.