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2013年6月 4日 (火)

南スーダン支援 地元連携で効果的なPKOに

The Yomiuri Shimbun June 4, 2013
Work with locals to enhance effect of Japan's PKO in South Sudan
南スーダン支援 地元連携で効果的なPKOに(6月3日付・読売社説)

It is important for Japan to adopt a strategy that enhances the effectiveness of its contribution to U.N. peacekeeping operations in South Sudan, by closely cooperating with local people.

The government has decided to extend the area of engagement by the Ground Self-Defense Force engineering unit taking part in the U.N. Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS).

Since January last year, about 330 personnel of the unit have been improving major trunk roads and an airstrip in the capital Juba, which is in Central Equatoria State. After Bangladeshi units pull out of Eastern and Western Equatoria shortly, the GSDF unit will also operate in these two states.

The GSDF engineers have withdrawn from the Golan Heights in the Middle East and Haiti, leaving South Sudan as the only country where the unit is engaged in peacekeeping operations.

Unit stars in engineering

Extending the unit’s area of engagement is quite appropriate for enhancing Japan’s presence in and reinforcing ties with Africa, which is expected to grow markedly in the future.

China, South Korea and India also have dispatched engineering units to South Sudan. In northern South Sudan, where the units of these three Asian nations conduct their peacekeeping activities, rebel forces still operate actively. In April, rebels attacked a U.N. convoy and killed 12 people, including five Indian peacekeepers escorting the convoy.

The public security situation is relatively stable in the three southern states where the GSDF unit will operate. Nonetheless, it is necessary to remain vigilant to ensure the safety of the unit by, for instance, constantly gathering information on the movements of rebel forces.

South Sudan became independent from Sudan in July 2011, but little progress has been made in its nation-building efforts. From May to October, heavy rainfall makes roads impassable in many areas. Therefore, it is hugely significant that the GSDF unit is helping to improve a road network that will serve as a foundation for that country’s economic development.

The unit has achieved tangible results in repairing and improving roads--its specialty area--in such nations as Cambodia and East Timor. The unit has earned a reputation for its precise and diligent work. Its attention to detail includes adjusting the camber of a road and the width of side gutters in line with rainfall of a specific area.

The important thing is for the unit to have numerous dialogues with local people to accurately grasp their true needs. This will enhance the effect of Japan’s assistance.

The GSDF unit began building a 1.7-kilometer community road in Juba in February. The unit proposed this project to the UNMISS after actively determining what locals need and want. The road is funded from about 84 million yen of grassroots grant aid of Japan’s official development assistance, which is used to procure necessary materials.

Think outside the box

The GSDF’s reconstruction activities in postwar Iraq were made in cooperation with locals, and were highly praised. We hope such assistance will be expanded.

The Foreign Ministry, for its part, must think hard about how to enhance the synergic effects of Japan’s official development assistance and peacekeeping operations. This might involve extending not only small-scale grant aid but also larger-scale assistance, such as the improvement of facilities, in tandem with the GSDF unit’s operations.

The GSDF has dispatched three majors, including intelligence staff, to UNMISS headquarters. For Japan to have a bigger say in peacekeeping operations, it will be necessary to dispatch higher-ranking SDF officers and have them placed in posts higher up the chain of command.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 3, 2013)
(2013年6月3日01時17分  読売新聞)


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