UNMISS peacekeepers undertake a follow-up patrol to Rokon in Central Equatoria

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A follow-up patrol team from UNMISS visited Rokon in Central Equatoria recently to engage with local communities and address their concerns. Photo by Moses Pasi/UNMISS.

18 Aug 2021

UNMISS peacekeepers undertake a follow-up patrol to Rokon in Central Equatoria

Moses Pasi

A patrol team from the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) recently revisited Rokon, some 70 kilometers west of South Sudan’s capital city, Juba.

The patrol team comprised of Military Observers serving with the UN peacekeeping mission had travelled to Rokon to assess the security and humanitarian situation some six months ago. The current visit was a follow up to ensure that people living here were secure and had access to necessary aid.

Rokon is currently hosting nearly 16,000 displaced people, particularly women and children, who have sheltered here from sporadic conflict in nearby locations. This has, inevitably, resulted in a competition for scarce resources, especially food.

“With the onset of the rainy season, we are planning to produce enough food for our own consumption; but we lack seeds and agricultural equipment to fulfill this strategy,” explained Kenneth Kawunda, the paramount chief of Rokon to visiting peacekeepers.

Another issue faced by residents: Lack of easy access to educational facilities.

Ijang Jackson treks 14 kilometers every day from the Lopiru area to attend classes at Rokon Primary School wonders if her conflict-affected former school will be repaired and start operating.

 “At times, classes have already started when I reach my current school. After walking long distances, I and many other students from my area attend lessons for eight hours without eating anything,” she reveals.

Isaiah Kulang, the headmaster of the school admits that for Ijang and others to continue learning in the dilapidated classrooms of the school, available volunteer teachers need guidance. “We need textbooks to guide our untrained teachers as they impart knowledge to our 366 learners. We are still waiting for trained government teachers to join our faculty,” he tells peacekeepers.

Healthcare, however, despite the COVID-pandemic, has improved since the last UNMISS visit here, not least because all boreholes have been repaired and the population has access to clean water. However, Julius Kenyi, a medical assistant at Rokon’s only primary healthcare facility notes that patients with serious issues suffer because they don’t have an ambulance to rush them to Juba.

For their part, peacekeepers reiterated their commitment to help bridge gaps in services through ongoing visits to this remote area. “We will make sure we convey all that you’ve told us to our partners to make sure you have all the support you need,” stated Major Levi Kipchirchir Serem, Military Observer, UNMISS. “This is part of the mission’s efforts to support peace and development efforts across South Sudan; we try to ensure all communities can look forward to a prosperous future.”