Phillip Mbugo/Felix Katie
Over thirty senior military officers from former armed groups in Western Equatoria have attended an UNMISS-led two-day training in Yambio on protection of children and vulnerable groups during armed conflict.
Koliab Nahataba, the UNMISS Head of Field Office in Western Equatoria, said that the training is very important for armed personnel in order to acquire the necessary knowledge to end grave violations against vulnerable groups in conflict situations.
“We (UNMISS) are concerned about such grave violations against vulnerable populations, so we really hope that this training will minimize the negative impact of the armed conflict on children,” Mr. Nahataba said.
The Minister of Local Government and Law Enforcement in Gbudue State, Jackson Ezekiel Buguwa, urged the participants to understand respect of human rights as an essential tool towards peace building, and also towards the transformation of their forces.
Buguwa asserted that the government is committed to peace and to implementing the peace agreement which was signed almost a year ago with SSNLM (South Sudan National Liberation Movement) in order to integrate them into the government forces. Hundreds of troops previously loyal to the Opposition led by Riek Machar have also surrendered and are now undergoing military training in Yambio. At present, the state government is waiting for a response from the national government as to how to handle their situation, Mr. Buguwa explained.
On his part, the UNMISS child protection officer Moses Bagari said that the purpose of the training was to sensitize and raise awareness among armed forces and groups on the prevention, monitoring and reporting of grave violations in armed conflict situations, and to engage them at community level.
Mr. Bagari said that similar workshops are expected to be conducted throughout greater Western Equatoria.