China to Deploy Troops to Protect South Sudan Oil Facilities

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China to Deploy Troops to Protect South Sudan Oil Facilities
« on: September 10, 2014, 03:42:13 PM »
China to Deploy Troops to Protect South Sudan Oil Facilities
10 September 2014
, by Mading Ngor and Ilya Gridneff (Bloomberg)
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/print/2014-09-10/china-to-deploy-troops-to-protect-south-sudan-oil-installations.html

China will send 700 soldiers to protect civilians working at oil facilities in South Sudan, where civil war has raged for almost nine months, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mawien Makol Arik said.

Troops will be deployed by November and help protect “vital installations,” reinforcing United Nations peacekeepers already in the country, Arik said by phone today from South Sudan’s capital, Juba.

The UN mission’s acting spokesman, Joseph Contreras, said the Chinese forces are part of a troop increase authorized by the UN Security Council in December.

No decision has been made about where they will deploy, he said.

“Our peacekeepers are not mandated to protect the infrastructure of the oil industry, only civilian workers in that industry who might find themselves caught” up in the violence, Contreras said in an e-mailed response to questions.

Conflict erupted in the world’s newest nation in December, pitting President Salva Kiir’s army against rebel forces allied with his former deputy, Riek Machar.

Thousands of people have died and more than 1.5 million have fled their homes.

The fighting shut down about a third of the country’s oil production, which is pumped by China National Petroleum Corp., Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd. and India’s Oil & Natural Gas Corp. (ONGC)

The companies evacuated some staff from the country because of the violence.

Employees Rescued

Mongolian peacekeepers in April rescued employees of a Russian oil company in South Sudan’s Unity state who were threatened by fighting between the army and rebels, Contreras said.

“This does not reflect any privileged status for civilian oil-industry workers, they were eligible for our support simply because they were civilians facing a threat of physical violence at the time,” he said.

China currently has 350 troops in South Sudan, mostly military engineers deployed in Western Bahr el-Ghazal, Warrap and Lake states, according to Contreras.

Personnel in other locations include medical staff and three military liaison officers, he said.
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