For the 30,000 people living in a protection of civilian’s site in Malakal, a day visit by the United Nations Peacekeeping Chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix, may go un-noticed, mainly because each of them is struggling in more ways than one.
Since its formation, this displaced people’s site has offered refuge to hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese fleeing conflict around their homes.
Salwa Dhola Rihan has lived in here since December 2013.
With nowhere else to go after more than three-and-a-half years, Rihan through a translator says “in this camp we are secured.” She adds “but still we need more security and peace in this country.”
Continued conflict has plagued South Sudan, since December 2013, when fighting broke out between two main rivals in the SPLM and the SPLM–in Opposition. A brokered peace deal signed between foes in August 2015, has not held in totality. There has been more fighting and numerous ceasefires have been broken. This has led to hundreds of thousands being displaced and emerging humanitarian concerns.
It is with this at the top of his mind, that Jean-Pierre Lacroix travelled to South Sudan and visited a displaced people’s site in Malakal.
Lacroix was met by traditional dancers at the POC site. Troops on the ground briefed him on various security concerns, challenges and humanitarian efforts being made to assist the population in the area.
“We are determined to continue doing our best to help the population,” he said after his visit to Malakal. “My visit to Malakal was quite informative on the efforts that are being made there to support the population there – the IDPs - but also the population as a whole, irrespective of their affiliation.”
Lacroix said that meetings with local authorities in Malakal led to some agreements.
“We had a good meeting with local authorities in Malakal and we agreed that we should continue to work together and increase our cooperation in order to help the return of stability and also generate better opportunities for the population there,” said Mr Lacroix.
During a meeting with the deputy Governor of the state, John Odhong, the Peacekeeping chief was told that the state government is currently engaged in inter-communal dialogue among the internally displaced persons leaving in the UN protection of civilian site in Malakal. The state governor outlined the state government priorities to the UN delegation.
“State government priorities are peace security, production and we encourage all citizens in central Upper Nile state to engage in peace building so as to close the gap and create more understanding and co-existing among the communities to be productive, and the state government is encouraging the citizens in the state to engage in agriculture during this rainy season so that next year they will have their own food to survive on,” said Odhong.
At the same meeting, the speaker of the Upper Nile state Assembly, Peter Col Wal, said peace remains essential for stability in the state. He urged the UN mission in the country, to support peace activities in the state.
“You came to Malakal, you have witnessed what you have seen, the destruction that happened, our needs in Malakal town is infrastructure, we don’t have roads, we need the UN especially UNMISS and other partners to help us in peace-building activities like workshops especially in the Assembly because they are the people representing citizens of this state, I believe we will be able to take our state back to peace if we got the support from the international communities,” said Col Wal.
The Peacekeeping operations chief was accompanied by the head of the UN Mission in South Sudan, David Shearer. He commended the state government for acknowledging the role of the mission in the area.