UNMISS peacekeepers intensify patrols in Nabiapai, Western Equatoria, following killing of three people
A recent shootout in Nabiapai, a border town between South Sudan’s Western Equatoria state and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which resulted in the death of three people and injuries to others, has increased tensions among citizens here.
“When we heard the gunshots ring, everybody ran to the bush and haven’t returned home since,” said Alison Amin, a resident.
Hundreds fled their homes fearing for their lives in Nabiapai as they weren’t confident that the sole police officer in this remote part of the world’s youngest nation would be able to protect them if tensions grew even further.
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) was quick to respond to reports of displacement and escalating public apprehension, sending peacekeepers to patrol the area, restore calm and stability.
While the presence of Blue Helmets has helped build confidence among local communities, a pall of fear still looms over Nabiapai.
“People here still remember active conflict and are fearful to come out of hiding, despite the fact that the government has assured us this was a one-off and we are safe now,” revealed Halima Abash, chairperson of a local women’s group.
For Suzy John, mother to seven children, the most important issue: To bolster the capacity of law enforcement personnel in the area. “We need more security and we also need reconciliation activities so that such incidents do not take place in future. Our children deserve to live in peace,” she stated.
Moses Bagari, the team leader of the visiting UNMISS patrol, revealed that peacekeepers were able to take stock of the on-ground security situation and speak with local authorities as well as community members about the challenges they face.
“We met with South Sudanese military officers, local officials, women and youth to get a thorough understanding of the incident. While people are still afraid, there is relative calm now. Those who fled are beginning to slowly return to their homes,” he stated.
Most residents of Nabiapai rely on cross-border trade for their livelihoods and the UN Peacekeeping mission is keeping a close watch to make sure the once-bustling market here returns to its busy routine.