Defence to provide air-lift support in South Sudan

Media Release


26 December 2013

Acting Prime Minister Warren Truss today announced that the Australian Government is responding to an urgent request from the United Nations for strategic air-lift support for the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

As requested by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 25 December (Australian time), the United Nations Security Council has unanimously approved a temporary increase in the strength of UNMISS forces to 12,500 military and 1,323 police from a current combined strength of some 7,000 - an increase of 5,500 military personnel and 440 police. This will be facilitated through the transfer of units, if necessary, from other UN forces in several neighbouring countries.

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) is preparing to provide a Royal Australian Air Force C-17A Globemaster and a C-130J Hercules to move United Nations personnel and equipment into South Sudan in the coming days.

Two aircraft that were conducting routine operations in the Middle East Area of Operations will be re-positioned to Al Minhad Air Base in the United Arab Emirates to undertake this task when required.

Both aircraft are equipped and crewed to support UNMISS and are prepared to operate in the threat environment expected in South Sudan. Re-deploying these aircraft to support the United Nations in South Sudan will not adversely affect ADF operations in the Middle East.

Defence, along with other government agencies, is closely monitoring the situation in South Sudan. The ADF personnel deployed with UNMISS remain on task and are complying with United Nations security advice.

At this time the UN mission is holding its forces in place. Today they are protecting approximately 45,000 displaced people. The UN's primary task in South Sudan is to protect civilians and provide humanitarian assistance, and the provision of two RAAF aircraft will support that mission.

The current ADF contingent in South Sudan of approximately 20 personnel is not deployed in combat roles and is engaged in key headquarters positions, aviation and logistics support roles, as well as acting as military liaison officers. There are also a small number of Australian police in South Sudan.