CENTRAL EQUATORIA- Knowing what responsibility that belongs to whom is always a good idea, but particularly when it comes to protecting all civilians, also the previously displaced persons who are choosing to return home, in times of insecurity.
To better understand the challenges involved, and to improve coordination to keep citizens safe, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) recently conducted a two-day workshop for 52 stakeholders residing in Terekeka County, 15 of whom were women. Local authorities, organized forces, religious leaders, women and youth groups – they were all represented.
“As women we also need to part of bringing peace to our communities, and this training has helped me to understand how I can contribute to that, not least by raising awareness among other women,” said Lona Warun Makir, Chairperson of the Watenakita Cooperative Society, an entity assisting women in fishing and farming for income generation.
John Nyangol Jok, Secretary-General of Terekeka’s Youth Association, identified the most important challenges when it comes to protecting civilians in his county.
“The main issues here are cattle rustling, revenge killings, insecurity on roads, poor road conditions, occasional floods and the lack of a reliable phone network in some areas,” he said, adding that young and educated returnees seem to be particularly targeted when violence occurs.
Participants agreed on a tentative action plan on how to collectively improve protection of civilians in the county. Among the measures they want to be undertaken are improved roads, reduced dowries for brides, regulated movements of cattle, the disarmament of civilians and the establishment of local police stations and courts. More awareness raising on how best to reintegrate displaced persons and refugees returning home was named another priority.
The peacekeeping mission is set to deliver similar trainings across Central Equatoria State and in other parts of the country as well.