UNMISS, JVMM hold workshop to educate stakeholders on new operational guidelines enabling greater access for the mission
“As peacekeepers, our primary job is to protect civilians who are in imminent danger,” says Nicholas Haysom, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in South Sudan and Head of the UN peacekeeping mission, UNMISS. “When we receive reports of conflict or an escalation in tensions from any part of the country, we are quick to react; we immediately send out patrols to such hotspots and ensure that our presence deters perpetrators from harming innocent people.”
To reach these remote locations, UNMISS provides information to the Government of South Sudan’s about the proposed movement to enable access. “Unfortunately, in the past, the agility of UNMISS peacekeepers has been curtailed by denials of access by state authorities,” reveals SRSG Haysom.
To counter this, the peacekeeping mission recently agreed on a new way forward with relevant government authorities to ensure it can more easily reach communities in need. Monthly meetings between UNMISS and the South Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs led to this new coordination mechanism geared towards furthering the common goal of preventing conflict and paving the way towards an enduring peace for all communities.
“We, as a peacekeeping mission, have a shared objective with the Government of South Sudan: To build a durable peace across this young nation,” stated the SRSG at a day-long workshop in Juba last week which brought together all stakeholders to help communicate the principles, processes, roles and responsibilities contained in these new guidelines.
“Our presence here today is part of an effort to work better together in service of that shared objective, even if we have encountered differences of approach in the past. Working together with respect for each other’s responsibilities will make us stronger,” added Mr. Haysom.
For his part, Deputy Foreign Minister, Deng Dau, believes that this is a significant move towards peacebuilding in the country. “This workshop and the guidelines we have adopted is very central in building trust among the people we serve,” said the Minister, “We are opening a new chapter of greater coordination between various security institutions within our country and the United Nations Mission in South Sudan. Our joint aim: To ensure a future of stability and prosperity for all South Sudanese.”
With this new set of operational guidelines, it is hoped that peacekeepers will be able to support the government and the people of South Sudan in a proactive, nimble and robust manner, especially considering widespread subnational violence.
“We have already seen improved access and a reduction in access denials as a result of this initiative,” averred SRSG Haysom. “This is a really important opportunity to build a stronger relationship between the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces and UNMISS. Our peacekeepers are more mobile than we’ve ever been, and our patrols are going all over the country to protect civilians wherever they may be threatened. We hope, with the cooperation of the government, we will be able to keep up this necessary work.”