German agency hands over housing project to UNMISS

10 Jan 2012

German agency hands over housing project to UNMISS

19 December 2011 - A German governmental agency handed over a project to build housing for UN staff to UNMISS in a formal ceremony today in South Sudan's capital of Juba.

The German Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) began the pilot project to supplement UN staff capacity with civilian governmental assistance at the new UNMISS Headquarters in Juba last April.

"THW, from the German Federal Government, has provided enormous support to UNMISS by having a number of engineers working hand in hand with UN staff to construct the future houses for the staff members of the mission," said UNMISS Director of Mission Support Nicolas von Ruben.

The importance of the project lay not only in its civilian partnership between the UN and a Member State, but on the characteristics of assistance, Mr. von Ruben said.

Construction of accommodation units by THW represented the first attempt in a peacekeeping mission to give a practical dimension to civilian capacity in the Aftermath of Conflict report, he said.

The report refers to the importance of establishing partnerships with international actors to enable fast, effective deployment of Member States' civilian capacities in allowing the UN to respond quickly in times of need. THW's assistance enabled a temporary deployment of experts with specific skills to help UNMISS perform the critical task of constructing what will be the homes of UNMISS staff.

Another new and interesting component is that South Sudanese ex-combatants formed part of THW's workforce to construct the living accommodation units. THW supervised and mentored them by providing on-the-job training, thus helping them to reintegrate into society.

THW's office was established in UNMISS' new Juba headquarters to ensure proximity to UN colleagues and the project site. It has relied on structures, roof and materials provided by the mission in working over the past nine months, at no cost to the mission, in the areas of concrete works, bricklaying, plastering, carpentering and general works, including welding, roofing, plumbing, tiling, and electrical works.

"We are hopeful that necessary mechanisms to enable and manage partnerships like the one with THW in a more standardized manner will become the rule and not just the exception under the new initiative on civilian capacities," said Mr. von Ruben.