A gift of hope: UNMISS continues supporting internally displaced persons by building an office space for IDP authorities in Bentiu
BENTIU - “The office building that UNMISS is handing over to us towards the end of the year, is the best early Christmas gift we could have hoped for,” said Peter Nlual Kam, Deputy Chair of the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission in Bentiu, Unity state.
“It will help us assist displaced people effectively, especially those who are keen to return to their original settlements,” he continued.
The Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (RRC) is the structure that took over security management and camp administration from UN Peacekeeping mission’s Protection, Transition and Reintegration Section, following the phased transition of the former Protection of Civilians Site (POC) here into a camp for internally displaced persons, under the sovereign authority of the Government of South Sudan.
“Following the re-designation of the former POC site into a full-fledged IDP camp, the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission was required to have a permanent presence within the camp location, but this wasn’t possible because they didn’t have an organized office space,” reveals Adejoh Paul Ebikwo, Acting Head of the UNMISS Field Office in Bentiu. “We are confident that this modern building will enhance essential coordination of activities between the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission, the Joint Police Unit and Community High Committee who are directly involved in running the camp,” he added.
Simon Kof Kuok, Camp Administrator, recalls life before the office was constructed. “When RRC officials came to the IDP camp to meet residents here and address their concerns, they would sit under a tree,” he revealed. “There are almost 180,000 displaced people living in this camp and it was difficult managing their affairs,” he stated.
When it comes to displaced women, this structure is a beacon of hope. “We have already gone through much tribulation and our challenges, as displaced women, are unique,” stated Nyanam Taung Kulang from the Community High Committee, a body that deals with improving lives of the displaced residents in the camp. “We are hopeful that the constant presence of the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission will be beneficial to women and young girls, specially when it comes to addressing issues that impact us directly.”
The modern office facility is fully furnished, powered by solar energy, with four separate rooms for clerical work. It was built through funding from the mission’s Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) programme.
“This project is intended to support the government of South Sudan in protecting civilians,” remarked Geraldine Chioma an officer working with UNMISS Protection, Transition and Reintegration. “Through our QIPs programme, we try to address urgent public needs via small-scale projects that have a massively positive impact. This office, we hope, will ensure the displaced community in Bentiu reap direct benefits,” she continued.
For UNMISS, the handing over of the building is keeping a promise: Continuing to work together with the government and humanitarian partners to assist and protect displaced civilians.
Similarly, for James Ninrew Keah, who has led the local implementation of this project, sustainability is key. “We have done our best to construct the building, challenges notwithstanding. “It is now crucial that the government and members of the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission maintain it and continue providing displaced persons with much-needed succor.”