Civil society organizations and local police in Malakal build capacities at an UNMISS workshop
MALAKAL - The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is consistently working to improve the capacities of local stakeholders in Malakal, Upper Nile state, especially when it comes to ensuring the security and protection of displaced civilians residing at the UN Protection Site that lies adjacent to the mission’s base here.
A recent workshop organized by the UN Peacekeeping mission’s Protection, Transition and Reintegration Section, was a case in point.
The interactive sessions ran for two-days and were aimed at enhancing the work functions of several local entities involved with providing key services for displaced people – the Protection of Civilians Coordination Committee, the Relief and Rehabilitation Committee and the South Sudan National Police Service.
They were facilitated by UN Police officers serving with UNMISS as well as members of the mission’s Civil Affairs Division; representatives from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR); the Danish Refugee Council and other partners.
The objective is to ensure that local stakeholders are fully ready and capable of taking on their roles when the Protection Site is eventually re-designated as a camp for internally displaced persons under the sovereign control of the Government of South Sudan.
Upon its conclusion, participants said that they found the workshop informative and helpful.
“I will take what I have learned here and disseminate it among my peers and other leaders from the displaced community here in Malakal by organizing a similar training exercise myself,” said Eliza Bukej, an officer with the PoC Coordination Committee.
For Major General Chuol Dak Deng, a South Sudanese police officer, the prime takeaway was the need for building trust and confidence among displaced communities and the local police. “We will continue to work with UNPOL and other rule of law actors to ensure that when the PoC site finally becomes a full-fledged IDP camp, we are confident in our abilities to serve and protect communities residing here,” he stated.
Perhaps the simplest but most powerful endorsement of the exercise came from Hafza Ajak Nyawello, Minister of Youth, Culture and Sports and acting state governor. “We want to build a strong structure for the nation where every citizen has access to their homes, education and can lead peaceful prosperous lives; the authorities and people of South Sudan can be the leaders of the eventual transformation of the PoC site into an IDP camp. It is a process and the change will not happen in a day. But we must prepare for a smooth transition,” she stated.
Such activities are part of the mission’s ongoing engagements to create optimum security and humanitarian conditions for the eventual handover of the Protection Site to the government and encourage voluntary returns of displaced persons to their original settlements.
Sheltering some 34,000 displaced people, the Protection Site in Malakal is the only remaining location where UNMISS continues to provide physical protection to displaced persons 24/7.