UN and South Sudan police celebrate improved trust and cooperation thanks to community policing
Internally displaced persons, residents of neighbouring communities, police and military representing both South Sudan and the UN peacekeeping mission: all were there, at the Yei Road checkpoint on the outskirts of Juba. Why? To celebrate increasing levels of trust and cooperation between civilians, security forces and the UN – and to exchange seasonal greetings, of course.
“We want to drink and eat together as brothers and sisters, with our UN colleagues with whom we work, and with members of the community that we try to keep safe. We made commendable breakthroughs in terms of trust-building and security for all,” said Captain Madhong from the South Sudan National Police Service as he addressed the crowd and lauded the peacekeeping mission for bringing his colleagues and community representatives together.
Captain Madhong highlighted a specific aspect of the cooperation between national and UN police: the community policing expertise that UN police officers have provided his staff with. This technical assistance, he said, is the main reason for significantly improved relations between the people staying at the camps for internally displaced persons and the national law enforcement agents, who are now responsible for the security of camp residents.
Referring to these recent developments, Geetha Pious, head of the peacekeeping mission’s field office in Juba, likened the situation with a child, who must be allowed to go through its stages of growth and learning to gain full maturity and stability.
“For harmony and security to prevail, we must all be collectively responsible and committed to giving peace a chance,” she said.
Simon Pok, a resident of the area, spoke along the same lines, much to the joy of the attentive audience.
“You can’t clap with one hand. The sense of security we’re celebrating here today should spread to every corner of the country, and those who are still full of hatred should be encouraged to embrace peace,” he said.
To make sure that the relationship between police and civilians in the area remain good, police community relations committees have been established, as a bridge between the two. Make good use of them, urged John Murangira, a police coordinator serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.
“Be vigilant at all times, take note of any security threats you observe and give timely information to the authorities so that they can take preventive action,” he said.