Oct 19, 2020(Nyamilepedia) — The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of UNMISS, David Shearer, visited Bentiu and Malakal for the first time since the coronavirus-related lockdown in South Sudan where he reassured people living in Protection of Civilians sites that UNMISS is committed to protection and peace-building across the region.
“I know that some people are nervous about the transition of POC sites into conventional camps for displaced people,” said David Shearer. “But I want those who are displaced to know that UNMISS is here. We are not going anywhere. We are committed to providing protection and peace-building across the region.”
On his first visit to the region since the COVID-19 lockdown began in March, the UNMISS chief prioritized meetings with displaced communities living in the protection sites next to UN bases.
Since the signing of the Ceasefire and Peace Deal by political violence has significantly reduced, with hundreds of thousands of people returning to their homes. Displaced families living in the POC camps are also moving freely to towns to shop, work and attend school.
Given there is no longer an external threat to the sites, POC sites are being re-designated as conventional displacement camps under South Sudan government.
According to David Shearer, Reducing the number of peacekeepers on static duties at these sites will enable UNMISS to do what it came to do in the first place—protect all civilians who are in imminent danger to the best of our ability. I will also enable UNMISS to do more patrols in areas where there is real need, be more agile and effective, and build capacity among local law enforcement.
POC inhabitants felt assured of the UNMISS support even potential changes to the camp.
“I was worried that the United Nations was withdrawing its peacekeepers completely from the protection site. But now I know they will still support us and I’ll tell the community to ignore any rumours suggesting otherwise,” says James Akuch Ayiik Adwok.