Malakal Protection of Civilians Site Hosts First Ever “Treasure Hunt”
Armed with maps, clues and a list of rules, two teams of internally displaced people, police and peacekeepers took off in search of items hidden within the bustling United Nations protection camp at Malakal.
The race was on, as they embarked on the first ever “treasure hunt” to be held in a Protection of Civilian site in South Sudan.
The treasure hunt at the Malakal site, which hosts 24,000 internally displaced people, is an innovative approach designed to help those who have sought sanctuary understand how important police searches are in securing their safety.
UN police and peacekeepers regularly carry out “cordon-and-search” activities, which involves an area being cordoned off and systematically searched for weapons and other contraband.
“This activity will helps us communicate with the community about the importance and the challenges of cordon-and-search which we perform here daily, weekly and monthly, to ensure that everyone living here feels safe,” said UN Police (UNPOL) Protection of Civilians site coordinator Alagie Joof. “Cordon-and-search is sometimes misunderstood but we want the community to appreciate that it is for their good.”
The teams were flagged off at 10am by the United Kingdom Engineering Contingent Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Katie Hislop. They had to navigate rough patches on foot and search for clues to identify where items were hidden and, just like in a real cordon-and-search, members of the community sometimes participated by offering “intelligence” and helping them trace the “treasures”.
The activity not only served as a learning tool but also provided an opportunity for the UK Engineers based at the POC, to engage with internally displaced persons in and around their homes and schools.
“We’ve learnt a lot about team work and team spirit. Sometimes we felt like giving up but we encouraged each other. This activity has actually taught us about early-mechanisms - how to identify threats and avoid them,” said Samuel Kur Ageng, the youth coordinator at the POC who took part in the treasure hunt.
“It was great working side-by-side with the UK Engineers. We have only seen them from afar but we have never worked as closely with them as we do regularly with UNPOL.”
The treasure hunt is just one of a number of initiatives being undertaken to enhance the ability of the UN Mission in South Sudan to protect civilians, to better plan and prepare its response to crises, and to build durable peace so that people can safely return to their homes.