AUTHOR: Daniel Garang Deng | PUBLISHED: November 15, 2023
NUF soldiers during the deployment commencement ceremony in Juba on Wednesday, November 15, 2023 | Credit | Daniel Garang Deng/TRC
The peace government has commenced the deployment of the Necessary Unified Forces (NUFs), with the first battalion at Luri training Center, west of Juba to Malakal, Upper Nile state.
The battalion is made up of about 1,000 soldiers. This is the first batch of the 53,000-strong force, which it graduated in August 2022.
“For the last three years, we have endured pressure from guarantors and peace monitors. Everyday, they would come and say ‘We were with Angelina in Defense, we were with Makuei in RJMEC, and peace implementation is not going well. When are the forces getting deployed? But today, no one will ask us again,’” said Tut Gatluak, presidential advisor on national security and chair of the National Transitional Committee (NTC).
Tut stated that the forces would help ensure that no armed individuals enter South Sudan through any border with Sudan, implying that some people fleeing the conflict in Sudan enter with arms.
“You are aware our neighbor is at war. We need forces at our border, not to deny them entry but to protect our border. Nobody should enter our country without the knowledge of the security. Allow Civilians to come in without arms. But if anyone comes with gun, take it,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Chief of Defense Forces, Gen. Santino Deng Wol, asked the forces to detach themselves from political parties and work to ensure that the internally displaced persons return to their respective homes.
“Today onward, no [SPLM]-IO, no SSPDF, nor SSOA soldiers. We are one army. You need to understand this better. We are South Sudan People’s Defense Forces. Go and do your national duty and make Malakal town safe to allow our people at UNMISS camps return to their original homes,” Deng explained.
The battalion is being transported to Malakal via rivers using boats that will also transport forces from Malakal to Juba to be taken to other parts of Souths duan.
“These boats that are going to Malakal will bring soldiers to Juba so that we can complete the deployment of those who are at the training centers.” Tut Gatluak added.
According to the 2018 revitalized peace agreement, the transitional government is to complete the security arrangement by training and deploying 83,000 Unified Force soldiers by the end of the transitional period.