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East African force says ready to deploy
to South Sudan upon AU order

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The Eastern Africa Standby Force (EASF), a regional rapid response force, said on Friday its troops are on standby and ready to deploy to South Sudan if the African Union gives the directive.

EASF Director Chanfi Issimail said the rapid-deployment force is well equipped and has the capacity to deploy to the troubled nation within 14 days following command which must be confirmed and endorsed by the AU leaders.

“EASF has a ready full operational capability force of 5,200 military, police and civilian personnel to fulfill its mandate of enhancing peace and security in the Eastern Africa region,” Issimail said in Nairobi during a visit by Denmark’s ambassador to Kenya Mette Knudsen to sign the joint Danish-EASF project of engagement document.

The rapid deployment force is one of the five regional standby forces under the command of the African Union and draws its membership from ten member states from the Eastern Africa Region, namely Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda.  

EASF is one of the five regional components of the African Standby Force established by the African Union for the purpose of containing conflicts and enhancing peace and security on the continent.

The EASF was established as a regional mechanism to provide capability for rapid deployment of forces to carry out preventive deployment, rapid intervention and peace enforcement.

South Sudan’s civil war began in December 2013 when President Salva Kiir accused former first vice president Riek Machar of plotting a coup, which opened ethnic divisions characterized by human rights violations.

Heavy fighting erupted again in July between forces loyal to President Kiir and his former deputy Machar, uprooting thousands of refugees who crossed into regional countries.

Knudsen and Issimail signed a document totaling 3 million U.S. dollars for the project that is designed to facilitate the standby force in achieving its ambition as a key player in the peace and security sector in the region through capacity building for the duration of the program that runs from 2015 to 2017.

Knudsen said the contribution is one element that can be used to support the clamor for peace in Africa.

“EASF is a useful tool and choice for the African Union in implementing peace in the region and a strong instrument that can be used to address stability in the region,” the ambassador said. 


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