“Peace Way to Bring Normalcy to Life” says South Sudanese teacher
“What I want is peace;” those are the words of a South Sudanese primary school teacher in Sopo, a village along the road to Raja in the former Western Bahr Al- Ghazal State
The teacher was talking to a protection patrol commander from a UN Bangladeshi peacekeeping force about the feelings of people in the area which was affected when fighting broke out in April 2016.
An integrated team from the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) recently conducted a patrol from October 26-30, 2017 consisting of UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS), Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) and Military Liaison and Chines Engineering Company with Bangladesh force protection.
The patrol was the first of its kind since June, as roads have been impassable over the past five months due to the heavy rainy season.
The patrol observed thousands of people displaced from the Raja area who are still sheltering in Deim Zubeir, a town about midway between Raja and Wau. They also report seeing other IDPs living in villages along the road.
Maj. Tavir Ahmed Tomal, the Bangladeshi Protection commander said the patrol was successful in assessing the road and security situation as well as building confidence amongst the civilian population.
He said “the security situation is quite stable and we have not observed any uncertainty along the road. However, the people we met specifically children are malnourished and vulnerable to disease because of lack of food.”
The teacher told the peacekeeper that peace would be a priority to bring normalcy back to their life. That would include restoring basic social services such as medical care, education and maintaining the road infrastructure for communication.
Some heavy vehicles in the patrol could not cross a bridge at Sopo area some 60 kms from Raja, Maj. Tomal said, adding improving the road network needs to be a priority to reach people in dire need with humanitarian support.
The Bangladeshi medical team provided health care to 80 people during the two day stay in Sopo village. UNMAS also demolished some remnants of war found around Raja.