South Sudan announced on Wednesday the deployment of 750 troops to the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Heavy fighting in recent months between DRC forces and M23 rebels has prompted the East African Community (EAC) to deploy a joint regional force that includes troops from Kenya, Burundi, and Uganda.
At a ceremony in the capital Juba, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir urged soldiers to maintain order and protect civilians.
“Now you are an organized force and you will keep the peace, although you will not wear a blue helmet (UN peacekeepers normally wear one, ed.), but thethe helmet you wear now will become blue,” said Salva Kiir.
The Minister of Defense of South Sudan reiterated the importance of the mission.
“As we are independent, this is the first task we have to take on to bring peace to the region and it is very important because in our country we have peacekeepers here who are keeping the peace for us, but now we will go,” said Angelina Tenney, Minister of Defense and Veterans Affairs of South Sudan.
The announcement of the deployment comes just four months after thousands of fighters, including former rebels loyal to Kiir and rival vice president Riek Machar, were integrated into South Sudan’s army, a key condition for a peace deal to end the country’s brutal civil war.