UN Police working to improve safety and security at Malakal protection site
They guard the gates of protected sites to keep people inside safe and criminals out.
They carry out random searches to find illegal items and weapons to ensure the sites are secure.
They are law enforcement agents when a crime is committed and train internally displaced people to help prevent crime themselves.
They act as election observers when community leaders are appointed within the sites.
And they offer grief counselling to those who have lost a family member in a sudden death.
All these and many more important activities are performed by the 84-strong team of UN police (UNPOL) officers that service the 25,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) living in the United Nations’ Malakal Protection of Civilian site.
In the absence of rule of law institutions due to the ongoing conflict in South Sudan, UNMISS relies heavily on UNPOL officers across the country to ensure that law and order is maintained at POC sites, as part of its mission to protect civilians.
Acting POC Coordinator at Malakal, Maximus Oloto gives an insight into their operations to ensure law and order is maintained.
“Normally back in our home countries, our roles are specialized. Here at the UN mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) however, we are diversified to cover everything. We work in shifts to ensure that 24-hour policing is done seven days a week at the POC.”
UNPOL officers from Community Policing in Malakal, in collaboration with other UNMISS sections, are now training IDPs in the camp on crime prevention, how to report it, and the processes that take place when crimes are committed.
Community policing team leader, Hildah Silowah says, so far, they have trained 400 community leaders, including the Community Watch Group, schoolchildren and women.
“Our aim is to increase the level of safety and security in the POC site, to enhance awareness on crime prevention but more importantly to improve relationships between IDPs and UNPOL here in Malakal,” she said.
One training participant, Josephine James, said she appreciated the UNPOL training and reiterated its importance to those living at the POC site. “Today we’ve learnt about crime and how to protect ourselves against crime. We’ve also learnt how people are charged by the police when they commit a crime,” she says.
The training session focused on human rights, child protection, gender, and crime prevention.
“Our aim with this training is to prepare the IDPs for their eventual reintegration into society once durable peace is attained as per the UNMISS mandate,” says Maximus Oloto.