China on Tuesday deployed 165 peacekeepers to South Sudan Tuesday on a one-year mission.
The peacekeepers, consisting of a sapper team of 133 and a medical unit of 32, are the first group of a 331-strong battalion sent by China for the mission.
The team will be tasked with repairing roads, bridges, and airports, constructing and maintaining barracks and shelters, building facilities for water, power and heating supplies, and providing engineering support in mission areas.
The medical unit will carry out tasks including treating common and infectious diseases and performing operations and vaccinations.
The second group of the battalion are scheduled to depart on Sept. 23 from Zhengzhou.
In March, the Chinese engineering unit assumed the task of establishing African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID)’s temporary operating base in Golo, an area with volcanic rocks.
UNAMID said the area is dangerous in Darfur, with hostilities between the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM)/ Abdul-Wahid Nur faction and the Sudanese army.
The mision said the unit paved the road linking the base to Golo town in Central Darfur, established the base’s fence and 11 watchtowers, and installed all water and electricity networks together with a total of 4.85 km of communication wires.
He explained that the base, established by the Chinese engineering unit, is composed of residential buildings, offices and other facilities, including an underground shelter.
The mission said the Chinese engineering unit has been providing important and vital services, whereas it contributed to the establishment of the mission’s infrastructures, particularly construction of camps, protective fences and watchtowers.”
It commended the Chinese Peacekeeping Helicopter Unit, which joined the mission in 2017 and is hailed as “the backbone of UNAMID operations.”
The team, which serves 29 field sites of the mission, has implemented 778 flight hours and transported 4,995 peacekeepers and more than 20,000 tons of goods and various materials, said Eissa.
The Chinese helicopter unit comprises of 140 military personnel and four Mi-171 helicopters, and carries out tasks such as air patrol, transport of peacekeeping forces, evacuation of rescued personnel and air supplies.
In early 2008, the UNAMID was deployed in Darfur, a region which has been witnessing military clashes between the Sudanese army and the rebels since 2003, which according to UN statistics has left 300,000 dead and displaced around 2.5 million others.
The UNAMID is considered as the second biggest peacekeeping mission in the world, after the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
China has been actively involved in the UN peacekeeping operations for over 25 years.
There are now 2,622 Chinese peacekeepers putting their lives at risk in restive regions around the world, according to a UN report published in July 2016.