Government minister meets Catterick soldiers ahead of South Sudan deployment

International Development Secretary Priti Patel met the troops from 32 Engineer Regiment  at Marne Barracks, Catterick Village.

The International Development Secretary has met Catterick soldiers who will shortly deploy to South Sudan.

Priti Patel met the troops from 32 Engineer Regiment  at Marne Barracks, Catterick Village, as they prepared for their deployment to support the United Nations Mission in the country (UNMISS).

The regiment is deploying 162 personnel who will replace colleagues from 21 Engineer Regiment based in Ripon. This will bring the UK military contingent in country to approximately 400.

The troops are spilt primarily split between Malakal and Bentiu where they will be providing engineering  support at UN camps and helping to develop logistical routes to improve the delivery of humanitarian aid, a vital task in a country where movement by road is virtually impossible due to a lack of infrastructure.

“The brave members of our Armed Forces are a credit to our country and ahead of their deployment to the UN peacekeeping mission to save lives in South Sudan, I’m delighted to have met men and women from 32 Engineer Regiment,” said the International Development Secretary.

“The situation on the ground in South Sudan is catastrophic and a man-made disaster. Conflict and instability has led to grotesque levels of violence and persecution, and Britain is leading the way in providing life-saving and emergency food, water and medicine to those in need.

She continued: “The engineering and medical expertise of our deployed British soldiers will make a real difference, bringing skills that the UN desperately needs to protect innocent people in this terrible conflict.

“Britain can stand tall in the world, with the dedication of our Armed Forces helping to save lives, rebuild South Sudan and bringing stability and peace to the people who live there.”

For many of the soldiers like Staff Sergeant John Wiseman, this will be their first United Nations mission. He said: “I have been to many countries on both operations and exercises but I have not been to South Sudan before.

“The British Army is deploying about 400 soldiers, so I realise we are a very small cog in a large wheel. However, the expertise we can take out will definitely be beneficial to the UN guys out there.

“We have done a lot of training over the last 6 – 8 months and I am definitely proud to be able to go out to South Sudan, put that training into practice and make a difference.”

Military chef, Private Lianne Ringland said she was excited to go on the six-month tour.

“It is going to be hard work but that is why I joined the Army. I have been to the Falkland Islands where I worked alongside the RAF for nine months in a kitchen feeding 1000 plus people which was an amazing experience and I learned so much.

“In the UK we are fortunate as a country and we are able to help these countries that do not have as much as we do.”

In South Sudan 6 million people face the daily reality of going without enough food and water and nearly 4 million people have been forced from their homes because of ruthless violence and widespread sexual assault.