Russian Peacekeepers Pull Out From South Sudan

All personnel and Mi-8 helicopters from the Russian air group in South Sudan have left the country, RIA Novosti correspondent reported.

The move follows a Russian presidential decree after the UN mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) ended on July 11, 2011.

The Russian peacekeeping contingent in Sudan comprised 120 personnel and four Mi-8MTV helicopters equipped according to UN and international standards.

The helicopters flew on Friday to a UN base in Uganda, where they will be dismantled and loaded on board an Antonov An-124 heavy-lift transport plane on route to Russia, as South Sudan does not have airports capable of accommodating An-124s.

The first unit of Russian peacekeepers arrived in Sudan in April 2006. They were expected to remain in the region for five or six years, with rotations every six months.

South Sudan won independence in July 2011 in a referendum that came as part of a peace deal to end decades of civil war. However, fighting still rages in disputed territory along the border with Sudan.

A series of recent tribal clashes in the country is believed to have left some 3,000 people dead, according to local officials.

Russia has decided to withdraw its peacekeeping contingent amid concerns over the safety of its personnel.

The contingent provided transport services for UN military observers in Sudan, including accompanying freight, and also carried out rescue operations.


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