Thai peacekeepers posted to South Sudan

During the season that symbolizes peace on earth, Thailand sent 273 peacekeepers to South Sudan under the auspices of the United Nations where they will spend the next year preventing violence, protecting the vulnerable, delivering first aid, and rebuilding shattered infrastructure.

“The Thai Horizontal Military Engineering Company (HMEC) has been trained in peacekeeping tactics and first aid delivery in addition to bringing their knowledge, skills, and experience in engineering,” said Col. Sirichan Ngathong, a deputy spokesman for the Royal Thai Army. The troops were selected for the mission in late 2017 to give them ample time to prepare for the situation on the ground in the African nation.

The Republic of South Sudan and its 12 million people are the newest nation on Earth, having gained independence from Sudan in 2011 following a referendum and decades of civil conflict. Freedom did not end the violence, however, as warring factions within the country continued to battle each other for supremacy. A power-sharing agreement was signed in August of this year.

The Kingdom of Thailand has been contributing troops and personnel to U.N. peacekeeping operations since 1985 when it sent an observer group to Lebanon. Since then, Thai peacekeepers have participated in peacekeeping missions in Iraq, Timor-Leste, Burundi, Nepal, Haiti, Liberia, Kashmir, and several other countries.

Peacekeeping epitomizes Thailand’s foreign policy and vision of maintaining friendly relations with all nations and working to build and support regional and global security. That vision and policy have been constant through every Thai government administration.

Col. Sirichan said that the peacekeeping mission would involve securing the routes between Juba, the capital city, and the cities of Torit and Yei. Torit is 86 miles from the capital, and Yei is 99 miles distant. Later in the mission, they will perform similar duties on the road between Rumbek and Yirol, further south in South Sudan, a route that extends 69 miles.

The troops will be engaged in planning, surveying, construction and maintaining those primary and secondary support routes.  Without secure transportation routes aid could not be delivered and the humanitarian situation in South Sudan would remain precarious. In 2017, the United Nations reported famine in parts of the country.

HMEC’s 273 personnel departed for South Sudan on Saturday. Equipment and other supplies had already been pre-positioned by the Thai military and the United Nations.

Photo courtesy of  Facebook/UNMISS.TH.HMEC