JUBA, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- South Sudan's transitional unity government on Monday called on soldiers who deserted cantonment and training sites over the past months to report back for screening to pave the way for the graduation of the first batch of the 83,000 unified forces.
Lam Paul Gabriel, spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense and Veterans Affairs said the soldiers who quit training and cantonment centers due to lack of food, shelter, and medicine should report to their respective centers for screening.
The directive came after the Joint Defense Board (JDB), the body charged with overseeing the training and graduation of the necessary unified forces set up a team to embark on screening of forces in Equatoria, Bahr El Ghazal, and Upper Nile regions.
"We are calling on those forces that have left training centers in one way or another beyond their control to be able to return to training centers so that we will be able to screen them," said Gabriel.
President Salva Kiir in July promised the graduation of the first batch of 53,000 unified troops, but this has not been done due to lack of consensus on the unified army command structure among the parties in the coalition government.
Under the 2018 revitalized peace deal, these forces are charged with taking charge of security during the ongoing transitional period.
Gabriel said the National Transitional Committee (NTC) led by President Salva Kiir's security advisor Tut Gatluak would preposition the necessary logistics required to facilitate the screening process.
"National Transitional Committee is going to provide food in training centers and when that happens then everything will start to work out," he revealed.
Peace monitors have in the past expressed concern over appalling conditions in training and cantonment sites that have forced a sizable number of soldiers, especially those from the opposition to desert due to lack of food, medicines, shelters and flooding.
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