UNMISS trains South Sudanese counterparts and community watch group in displaced persons’ camp in Bor on preventing crime
JONGLEI – Following the redesignation of the UN protection of civilians site in Bor into a conventional camp for internally displaced persons, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) continues to assist the South Sudan National Police Service (SSNPS) and the Community Watch Group, a body comprised of camp residents, in ensuring the safety and security of the displaced.
A recent example of such collaboration: A two-day workshop organized by the UN Peacekeeping mission for 40 participants from the host community, representatives of the displaced and local police.
The main aim of the forum was to empower the Community Watch Group in promptly reporting cases of petty theft, sexual violence, substance abuse and illicit use of firearms by residents of the camp.
“Information sharing is key in crime prevention,” said Geetha Pious, the Head of the UNMISS Field Office in the state. “This workshop focuses on strengthening the Community Watch Group’s ability to identify and swiftly report on any sort of wrongdoing that could potentially impact the lives of displaced people living in the camp,” she added.
For UNMISS Police Commissioner, Christine Fossen, such capacity-building initiatives bolster ongoing efforts by UN Police (UNPOL) officers to help their South Sudanese counterparts uphold the rule of law.
“Our UNPOL officers support the work of the SSNPS every day, especially when it comes to protecting displaced civilians. We are here to help ensure every resident at the camp is safe and secure,” she stated.
The Community Watch Group plays a pivotal role in mediating and settling disputes that may arise among displaced persons living in the IDP camp. To discharge their important functions, they have received regular trainings from the UN Peacekeeping mission as well as other partners.
Their part in mitigating potential conflict is bolstered by the UNMISS Protection, Transition and Reintegration Section, which, together with UNPOL and the SSNPS, assists in making rights-based and gender sensitive decisions on disputes.
However, challenges remain, as elucidated by John Lual, a representative for displaced persons.
“For us to be able to inform the police about any crime or wrongdoing speedily, we need to be mobile and, therefore, we request UNMISS and partners to consider providing us with a means of transport,” he averred.
Participants appreciated the workshop.
“Such capacity building initiatives are necessary to build a relationship of trust between our police and the communities they serve, so I hope UNMISS will continue such initiatives,” affirmed Nyandit Bol, a representative from the host community.
Mr. Bol’s views were echoed by Assistant Police Coordinator in Bor Donald Agok who said he believed that stronger partnerships among all stakeholders on the ground would go a long way in ensuring greater security for displaced persons.
“Such workshops bring all of us together, enable us to find creative solutions to outstanding issues and help build a protective environment for everybody. Our people have suffered tremendously due to conflict. It is, therefore, incumbent upon us to create an environment that supports peace and progress,” he said eloquently.