Kerry urges deployment of South Sudan 'protection force'
23 August 2016, 13:33
Nairobi - US Secretary of State John Kerry called on Monday for the deployment of a 4 000-strong "protection force" to bolster the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan.
"There is absolutely no question that we need to move forward with the deployment of the regional protection force authorised by the UN Security Council," Kerry said after meeting with five regional foreign ministers in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.
Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed urged a speedy deployment. "When should it be there? Sooner rather than later," she said.
In the wake of fresh fighting in the South Sudanese capital Juba last month, Kenya offered to provide troops for a new force, approved by the Security Council on August 12, alongside Ethiopia and Rwanda.
The 4 000 new troops will join 12 000 already deployed as part of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
Mohamed said a "gradual deployment" would allow troops to reach Juba, the capital of the world's newest nation, more quickly.
"Any number of soldiers that goes in in the name of a protection force would be welcome and would open the door to everything else," she said.
Kerry said the new force would only seek to improve security in Juba and allow for the implementation of a peace deal signed a year ago.
"This is not an intervention force, it is a protection force, with a very clear mandate to protect people, to ensure access, freedom of movement and to be free from ambush or attack of any sort," he said.