Serving for Peace in South Sudan: Sissi Renita Thorn, Sweden
United Nations Police (UNPOL) officers are very special. They deploy from their home countries to UN Peacekeeping missions across the world, helping achieve complex mandates while building capacities among local policing counterparts in conflict-ridden societies.
In the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), UNPOL officers work every day with host communities and the South Sudan National Police Service, helping build trust, confidence, and most importantly, a stable rule of law structure that will contribute to establishing a truly durable peace here.
One such dedicated officer is Police Adviser Sissi Renita Thorn from Sweden. Deployed to Pibor, within the Greater Pibor Administrative Area in Greater Jonglei, Sissi is the Deputy Team Leader for UNPOL here.
In this short interview, Sissi tells us why serving for peace in the world’s youngest country is a matter of professional and personal pride for her.
What made you decide to become a police officer in the first place?
Frankly, it wasn’t a hugely thought-out decision. A very close friend of mine called me just a day before the close of applications for the Police Academy in Sweden, saying that it would be wonderful if we could work together in future. I listened to her since she was studying at the Academy at the time, and here I am today. I’d say for me becoming a police officer was a combination of fate and friendship.
How long ago was that?
I’ve been a police officer now for almost 18 years. I began my training at the Police Academy in January 2004. It’s been a very valuable journey, not without its ups and downs. But I have cherished every moment of it.
Why did you deploy as a UN peacekeeper? What is the most special thing about being an UNPOL officer?
My country, Sweden, has a long history of contributing to UN peace operations. Every time my colleagues would come back after serving under the iconic blue flag, they would be full of stories about the good work they were doing for vulnerable people across the world. This fueled my desire to serve for a cause greater than all of us as individuals. I was delighted when I was chosen to serve with UNMISS. South Sudan is a beautiful country with some of the warmest, most hospitable people I have ever met, and they deserve a durable peace. My experience of policing grows with every interaction I have. No one can do everything, but everyone can do something: I feel that I am contributing my own skills and knowledge to help build a better future for our local counterparts as well as communities living here.
Could you reveal a special moment you’ve experienced as a peacekeeper?
I’m currently deployed to Pibor and I have made it a point to be able to communicate and introduce myself in Murle, one of the widely spoken local languages here. Being able to introduce yourself to people using their language is a brilliant icebreaker. There is such joy, happiness and amazement on their faces when I speak or greet them in their language! I am also very happy that I could provide protection and confidence to women and girls here in Pibor.
Could you summarize your experience as an UNPOL officer?
I feel privileged to serve in the UN. I am proud of the work we do here in Pibor, providing expertise to local police, helping introduce professional policing standards and building confidence among community members. As a mother of three children, I was waiting for the right time to deploy and now that they’re grown up, I have been able to fulfil my cherished dream of wearing the blue beret.