UNPOL officers in Eastern Equatoria train Police Community Relations Committees on protecting children

UNMISS protection of civilians UNPOL community policing law and order child abductions torit eastern equatoria

Following a spate of child abductions, UNPOL and the South Sudan Police Service in Torit, Eastern Equatoria, are sensitizing Police Community Relations Committees here on reporting any suspicious activity in their neighbourhoods promptly to local authorities to keep their children safe from harm. Photo by Okello James/UNMISS.

15 Sep 2021

UNPOL officers in Eastern Equatoria train Police Community Relations Committees on protecting children

Okello James

United Nations Police (UNPOL) officers based in Torit, Eastern Equatoria, have embarked on sensitizing members of the Police Community Relations Committees in residential areas on protecting children from being abducted.

The training module was developed by UNPOL in collaboration with the South Sudan National Police Service after three children were recently abducted from a family living in the Iluhum residential area of Torit.

“If you notice any suspicious activity by a stranger in your community, report it to the authorities. They can intervene and prevent any escalation. So, by informing the police in a timely fashion, you will keep your children safe,” said Pernilla Eisele, an UNPOL officer facilitating the workshop.

The ongoing campaign has been warmly welcomed by the local community who have shown readiness to work for a safer and child-friendly community.

“We have been overwhelmed with grief after the recent abductions,” revealed Oful William, a community member in Hai Askal, one of the residential areas. “We have teamed up with chiefs to improve reporting of all real and perceived criminal activities.”

Even as authorities pursue investigations on the recent kidnappings, Police Community Relations Committee (PCRC) members have revived night patrols aimed at tightening up security in neighbourhoods.

“Our strategy will need the collaboration of community leaders and members of the PCRC to ensure prompt response to threats and crimes. Your combined action is needed to deter crimes and return our communities to safety,” said Fabiano Adolfo Oswaha, a community policing officer.

Child abductions have become something of a hot-button issue in Eastern Equatoria, where close to 100 children have been abducted in recent years.

However, deterrence strategies required to control crime is beyond the current capacity of the police. For this reason, policing that focuses on developing relationships with community members to enhance safety has become crucial.