An advanced party of Chinese peacekeepers is already in South Sudan and the rest of the 700-strong contingent is due to arrive early April, as part of a surge in a U.N. mission to protect civilians in a nation mired in conflict, a U.N. official said on Friday. Reuters report:
Fighting in the oil-producing nation, which is one of the world’s poorest, has killed more than 10,000 people, driven more than a million from their homes and left many without enough food.
“We had an advanced party of 18 members of the incoming battalion arrive on Jan. 9 to begin preparations for delivery of contingent-owned equipment,” said Brian Kelly, an spokesman for the U.N. mission in South Sudan UNMISS.
He said some of the equipment had already landed in Entebbe, in neighboring Uganda.
“Overall deployment of the 700-stong Chinese infantry battalion and its equipment will take more than two months to complete,” he said, adding 180 troops would be in Juba by the end of February with 520 more arriving by late March or early April.
China is a major investor in South Sudan’s oil industry.