/

SDF peacekeepers involved in 50 road accidents in South Sudan: ministry

Kyodo

Ground Self-Defense Force personnel participating in a U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Sudan have been involved in about 50 traffic accidents since the start of their deployment in January of 2012, the Defense Ministry said Monday.

The ministry released the figures for the first time following an accident the same day in the capital Juba in which a vehicle carrying members of the GSDF and a civilian on a motorcycle collided.

The local man suffered fractures, while none of the Japanese troops were hurt, according to the ministry.

A Defense Ministry official said the accident tally has been released now because of “heightened public interest in the SDF’s activities in South Sudan and the fact that the civilian sustained fractures.”

But the ministry did not release details about the other accidents in which the troops have been involved since they began participating in the U.N. mission.

The Japanese government said on March 10 it will end the SDF’s participation in the mission at the end of May, citing a diminishing need for the troops’ help in building infrastructure. Opposition parties have claimed that deterioration in security conditions in Juba is really behind the move.

Monday’s accident occurred at an intersection about 500 meters to the north of the Japanese peacekeepers’ barracks in Juba. According to the ministry, the vehicle carrying GSDF civil engineers turned left and collided with the motorcycle traveling behind it.

An SDF medic traveling with the group gave the man first aid before U.N. military police took him to a civilian hospital.

According to the ministry, traffic accidents involving peacekeepers are investigated by the United Nations.