National / Politics

Japanese troops settle into heavily secured camp in South Sudan

Kyodo

The Ground Self-Defense personnel who recently arrived in South Sudan for U.N. peacekeeping duty find themselves in a heavily secured and isolated camp far removed from the locals they are here to help.

On Monday at the camp inside the U.N. Peacekeeping Operations site, a ceremony was held to mark a changing of the guard to the 11th group of GSDF troops. In addition to engineering projects, they are tasked with protecting other peacekeepers and U.N. staff even if the GSDF troops are not directly targeted.

The U.N. site is located adjacent to Juba International Airport, and its main gate on an unpaved road opens only for people carrying U.N. identification cards or their registered guests.

Traffic is sparse in the area, with U.N. vehicles occasionally passing the motorbike taxi drivers who await customers in the blistering heat.

The facility stretches east to west, and the GSDF personnel are staying in the area farthest from the main gate, a 20-minute walk from the entrance. Their barracks are fenced in by barbed wire and appear more heavily secured than the neighboring area housing Bangladeshi troops.

The camp was twice hit by a wave of people fleeing fighting near their homes in December 2013 and again this past July.

In accordance with Japan’s new security legislation, the fresh GSDF troops have extended powers allowing them to aid U.N. staff and others in the event of an urgent request, and also to join foreign troops to defend a U.N. peacekeeping camp even if GSDF members are not targeted.