South Sudan: Soldiers deserting training camps due to hunger.
South Sudanese army (SSPDF) general said dire conditions of soldiers in the unified training camps over the country has forced several forces being trained as part of the 2008 peace deal to flee the centres.
In a report seen by NCMP, Lt. General Wizely Welebe Samson, a member of the Joint Defence Board (JDB) admitted that soldiers were deserting the training camps across the country due to hunger and diseases.
“Those of us who are overseeing the training do not sleep. The number of calls we receive each day is disturbing. People are dying. They are living in a hostile situation and the number of people who have died is alarming and it is increasing each day. Because of this, some have decided to leave the training camps. They have deserted because the situation in these camps is not good. There is no food, no medicines and there is nothing we can do,” said Welebe.
He added in the Sudan tribune report, “We hear their reports and complaints and what we do is just to forward these cases and complaints to political leaders and the presidency”.
The officer from the armed opposition faction (SPLM-IO) made similar remarks during a talk-show Radio Miraya organised for the JDB members on Saturday.
In mid-October, the JDB, the body which is charged with overseeing the training and graduation of the necessary unified forces, said the graduation of the necessary unified forces will take place in the first week of November.
For his part, South Sudan army (SSPDF) spokesman, Major Gen. Lul Ruai Koang attributed delays in the graduation of the forces at the training camps to financial constraints, lack of consensus and the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said the graduation of the unified forces will depend on the availability of funds and resolution of disagreements on responsibility-sharing of unified command.
The body monitoring South Sudan’s peace deal (R-JMEC) has, in the past, expressed concern over dire conditions in training sites that have forced a sizable number of soldiers to desert due to lack of food, medicines and shelters.
South Sudan, under the 2018 peace deal, is supposed to graduate 83,000 unified forces drawn from the various parties to take charge of security during the ongoing transitional period.