British troops in South Sudan

UK Troops In South Sudan Help Safeguard Women From Attack

More than 300 UK soldiers are deployed to the African country.

British troops in South Sudan

More than 300 UK soldiers are deployed to South Sudan (Picture: MOD).

British troops deployed in South Sudan helped protect local women from being attacked after upgrading 15km of roads in the town of Bentiu.

Personnel made roads more accessible to aid trucks travelling around the town, where the aid distribution centre and the Protection of Civilians (PoC) site are stationed.

The same stretch of road was where, according to Sunday Times correspondent Christina Lamb, women were being attacked. She told Forces Radio BFBS' Sitrep programme:

"The reason the women were so vulnerable [in that specific stretch of road] was because there was no way for the trucks to get along the way to deliver the aid nearer to them," said Ms Lamb.

"British engineers were actually deployed to then get to rebuild and widen the road and make it passable for the track so the women wouldn’t have to walk such a long way."

By making the roads more accessible to trucks and removing the vegetation, the troops have both shortened the distance women have to walk to reach the aid distribution centre and removed hiding spots for potential threats.

British troops in South Sudan
British forces are deployed to South Sudan in support of the United Nations Peacekeeping mission in the country (Picture: MOD)

South Sudan is currently the UN's largest peacekeeping mission and one of the most dangerous.

Because so many people have been displaced during the war in South Sudan, the women often have to walk as much as almost 60 miles to gather aid and food for their families.

During a visit to South Sudan earlier this month, the Defence Secretary went to a UN Protection of Civilian (PoC) camp in Malakal to hear the stories of some of those who have been affected by the conflict. He said:

 "The UK is a nation that leads from the front – promoting security, championing prosperity, and protecting human rights."

The British mission in South Sudan and Williamson's visit to the peacekeeping mission, according to Lamb, is trying to make people aware of the issue of violence on women at war.

"The fact that the Defence Secretary is taking initiative on this, I think, is a very important and good thing," she said.

"Obviously, that’s just a small thing. This is happening all over the country," said the Sunday Times correspondent, who was in Bentiu during Mr Williamson's visit.