Dec 29, 2020(Nyamilepedia) —- Residents of Ibba County in Western Equatoria State say that they feel unsafe when they go for months without seeing UNMISS soldiers patrolling the area.
They blame the bad state of the roads in the area for making it hard for UNMISS to visit the area quite often.
“We feel unprotected when we don’t see UNMISS vehicles passing by here, so today I was happy to see them,” said James Arkangelo, one of the locals.
“We are requesting that the road is repaired and maintained, because without it our traders cannot bring us the basic commodities and services we need,” he added.
The residents say the linking Western Equatoria State with the capital Juba, is almost impassable because of crater-like potholes caused by heavy rains.
“Actually, the road is not really there anymore. There are like 18 trucks stuck along the way,” said Lucky Mbakadi, a resident who hired two trucks to bring necessities.
He stressed on the need for it to be repaired during the current dry season addinh that the vehicles he rented have been stuck for months.
Christopher Murenga, head of the peacekeeping mission’s field office in Yambio, agrees that regular patrols to remote locations are important to fulfill the mandate to protect civilians and find out what kind of challenges in such places are facing.
“We need to visit the communities and sit down with their representatives to discuss how things are going. They trust us, and their presence gives communities confidence to go about their everyday lives,” he said.
The UNMISS patrol team managed to navigate the rough road to Ibba County in Western Equatoria State using tricycles and motorbikes equipped with loudspeakers transmitting important messages in different languages to raise awareness on how to prevent and stay safe from COVID-19.
The campaign was carried out in cooperation with the Community Empowerment Agency for Transformation.
“The message we want to forward to our community is that they should keep in mind that COVID-19 is still around and that everyone must follow the protection guidelines to keep themselves and others safe,” said Joyce Philip, who listened to the public service announcements aired at Ibba’s local market.
These precautionary measures include frequent hand washing, maintaining sufficient physical distance between oneself and others, wearing a face mask, coughing and sneezing into one’s flexed elbow and to avoid crowded places whenever possible.