GSDF hunkers down in Sudan compound

Kyodo

Japanese troops involved in a U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Sudan do not see any prospect of resuming their original task of infrastructure building, despite a cease-fire deal signed last month, their commander said Tuesday.

The Ground Self-Defense Force engineering unit will instead continue helping displaced people in the fledgling African country’s capital, Juba, Col. Kenichi Igawa told Kyodo News.

Although South Sudan’s government and rebels, who began fighting in December, signed a cease-fire Jan. 23 to end what a U.N. official said was effectively a civil war, sporadic fighting still breaks out in parts of the country.

Noting that “a full-scale peace has yet to be attained,” Igawa said the troops’ work is meant to “support the nation-building in a broad sense.”

The GSDF unit has halted activities outside the peacekeeper compound in Juba, where it is based, and is engaged in construction work to improve the lives of the tens of thousands of people taking refuge there.