With protection of civilians being the primary responsibility of the government, local authorities in South Sudan also need to know what responsibilities they have, and how to go about the task of keeping citizens safe.
After a two-day workhop organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, some 50 such authority figures, youth and women’s leaders and representatives of the security forces in Aweil have been duly informed, and also received a refresher on the peacekeeping mission’s mandate in the country.
“Peace among our communities is what we need, but it can only prevail if everyone is provided with safe drinking water, schools and healthcare facilities,” said Mr. Andrea Akuar Akuar, a paramount chief, who also commended UNMISS for educating people on peace dividends.
Representing women from the area, Abuk Azubeir called on her sisters and brothers to shun violence and embrace peace for the sake of development.
“I urge the people of my country to stop fighting so that we can move ahead, like the rest of the world. All the wars we have gone through have left us underdeveloped, without sufficient schools, hospitals and adequate roads,” she said.
Those in attendance learnt more about both human rights and gender equality as well, although the focus was firmly on how to identify protection (of civilians) needs, propose solutions and take preventive actions.
“As representatives of the government, members of the organized forces, chiefs, women, and youths, we have the full responsibility of ensuring that everyone is safe and that farms, water points, roads and other infrastructure is also protected,” County Commissioner Peter Natale Ukech affirmed.
What about the tasks of the UN peacekeeping mission in the country, then? Human Rights Officer Alfred Zulu has the answer:
“Our role is to help promote the peaceful coexistence between communities, but also to support in terms of protection of civilians should the government be unable or unwilling to fulfill this duty.”
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
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