New police post in Wakou aims to enhance safety and security for communities

unmiss wakou lakes police post capacity building quick impact projects south sudan peacekeeping peacekeepers united nations

How important is a good night's rest? Very, especially for the people of Wakou, South Sudan, who till recently lived 60 kilometers away from the main police station. Thanks to an UNMISS-funded police post, communities living here can now confidently go about their daily work while local police officers will no longer have to set up shop under a tree. Photo by Wade Mageng/UNMISS

10 Jun 2022

New police post in Wakou aims to enhance safety and security for communities

Nina Zubovic Vignjevic

LAKES – Communities living some 60 kilometers away from the main police station in Wakou, a boma [administrative division] of Wulu county in Lakes state, South Sudan, did not sleep easy at night.

The reason: Though Lakes is largely stable, Waku shares borders with Western Equatoria, which for six months last year witnessed escalating conflict, death, and displacement.

Law enforcement personnel from the South Sudan National Police Service deployed in this area were housed in a small mud brick cottage. At times, they would have to deal with community complaints and reports while sitting under the shade of a tree.

When the rainy season would darken Wakou’s blue skies, and the clouds burst open, upholding law and order became nearly impossible for these police officers.

“Violence is contagious,” says Tabitha Abiel Matab, Chairperson of the Women’s Association in the county.

“When news travelled about the plight of our neighbours in the greater Tambura region, everybody in Wakou was afraid because though we are relatively peaceful, we didn’t want any conflict spilling into our lives because of our geographical proximity to a hotspot,” she explains.

Upholding the rule of law and ensuring Wakou communities were protected, therefore, became a focus for local authorities.

Enter the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). Patrolling peacekeepers met with citizens of Wakou and escalated their concerns to the UN Peacekeeping mission’s Protection, Transition and Reintegration Section.

This became a top priority for UNMISS and through its Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) programme, a new police post was constructed for local police officers to serve the residents of Wakou efficiently and effectively.

At the handover ceremony, Juma Dafala Rajaf, County Commissioner of Wulu was  explicit in pointing out that this intervention was not merely to make law enforcement personnel comfortable but to enable them to help the people.

“This police post has been constructed for your benefit, so that you can continue your daily work with confidence and feel secure at all times,” he stated.

To cement the promise of long-term benefits for the people of Wakou, UNMISS staff, local authorities and community members also planted trees.

For Caroline Opok, Team Leader of the mission’s Protection, Transition and Reintegration arm in the state, this is an opportunity for community members and local law enforcement to partner in ensuring stability as well as security for all.

“Take care of this newly constructed building because it will not only benefit you but create a safer environment for your children,” she said, speaking at the event.

As dusk fell and the keys to the new facility were handed over, the sense of joy and relief among community members was palpable. The people of Wakou can finally get a good night’s rest.