S. Korea to bring home part of rotational troops from South Sudan
SEOUL, South Korea will bring back part of its troops from South Sudan without sending a replacement contingent for the time being due to coronavirus concerns, government sources said Wednesday.
The decision to bring home about 210 troops of the 270-strong Hanbit Unit came after South Sudan officially asked Seoul and other foreign countries not to send fresh troops in the wake of the continued spread of the COVID-19 virus across the globe.
About 150 service members will return home this month and the rest early next month, while the remaining 60 troops will stay in the African nation to perform basic surveillance duties, officials said.
The unit has carried out U.N. peacekeeping operations in the war-torn nation since 2013.
"Bringing them home is meant to guarantee their right to vote next month," a military officer here said, pointing to the general elections slated for April 15. He added about 10 members are supposed to be discharged from the military early next month.
The ministry has sought to complete a rotational deployment before the elections so as to allow all service members to exercise their due rights.
"It is yet to be decided when to send a new batch," a ministry official said, adding that the government has discussed the matter with South Sudan and the U.N. side through diplomatic channels.
As of Wednesday, South Korea had 8,413 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, including 84 deaths, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).
South Korea began troop deployment to South Sudan at the U.N.'s request in accordance with a U.N. Security Council resolution aimed at assisting peaceful reconstruction work. The African nation declared its independence from its Arab-dominated northern neighbor Sudan in July 2011 after decades of civil war that killed more than 2 million people.
Source: Yonhap News Agency