Even as two fighting sides in South Sudan are set to begin talks for a likely ceasefire, a team of senior officials will be visiting the world’s youngest country this weekend. The ongoing civil war had cost seven Indians who were among the UN peacekeeping force.
Official sources said that the team of senior officials will “assess the political and security situation” in South Sudan. They will review the arrangements for the Indian mission staff in Juba and hold discussions with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan. The team will also meet the Indians there.
There are around 2,000 Indian peacekeepers attached to the UNMISS, with the deputy forces commander being Brigadier Asit Mistri from the Indian Army. Government sources said that Brigadier Mistri had been recalled in view of the current situation. After an advisory was issued by Indian embassy in Juba, local Indian community has shrunk from 1,000 on December 15 to just 250, who were working at various commercial enterprises across the country.
Among the 250, 68 Indians, all of them from Tamil Nadu, are working with Dar Petroleum Operating Company, jointly owned by China’s CNPC and Malaysia’s Petronas. They are residing at Palouge in Upper Nile State and are contracted by SUDD Services and Investment Company Limited, Juba.
“The mission is in touch with the Ministry of Petroleum of South Sudan and the CMD of the DPOC who have assured that Indian nationals are safe as there is no conflict there and that they will be evacuated by the company if the situation warrants,” said government sources.