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Britain's contributing 400 troops to South Sudan peacekeeping mission

The UN peacekeeping mission began at the birth of the Republic of South Sudan Credit: AP

ITV News has learnt details of Britain's military contribution to the UN peacekeeping force in South Sudan.

By the end of May, around 400 troops – mainly engineers – will be on the ground, based primarily in two huge camps for civilians displaced by three years of fighting.

They'll work on projects to improve the often grim physical conditions at Bentiu and Malakal, in the north of the war-torn nation, for example a new drainage system.

They'll also build a hospital – though for soldiers rather than civilians. Incredibly there has been no proper medical facility for injured troops until now.

Thirty million pounds over each of the planned three years is the cost – a modest contribution, yet the Ministry of Defence is promoting it as a significant return by the UK to 'blue-beret' operations.

It is also a gamble – not in terms of the lives of British service personnel, one would hope – but because the UN mission, UNMISS, has been roundly and regularly criticised for failing in its primary function; to protect civilians in a conflict which has claimed 50,000 lives and uprooted millions more.

The truth is more complex. There are too few UNMISS soldiers asked to keep a watch on too vast an area with insufficient resources.

Failure is what happens when peacekeepers move in to a nation where there is no peace to keep.

  • ITV News At Ten presenter Tom Bradby spoke to Foreign Office Minister, MP Tobias Ellwood, about the impact that British troops could have in the country: