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History Made in Diffra as UNISFA Establishes Community Protection Committee in Northern Abyei

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Abyei, 30 June 2022 – Over seven hundred people yesterday, gathered in Diffra to witness the inauguration of the Community Protection Committee (CPC) system in the Northern Sector of the Abyei Area to enhance the rule of law in the absence of the Joint Abyei Police Service as provided for in the 20 June 2011 Agreement between the government of the Republic of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement on the Temporary Arrangement for the Administration and Security of the Abyei. Until yesterday, the Community Protection Committee was only operational in the Southern part of the Abyei Area despite sustained efforts by UNISFA and consistent appeals by successive UNISFA resolutions to also establish it in the Northern part of the Area.

According to UNISFA Acting Head of Mission and Force Commander, Major General Benjamin Olufemi Sawyerr, the inauguration of the CPC comprising one hundred and sixty-two (161) volunteers including seven (7)) women fully endorsed by the traditional leadership and the local administration to serve as Community Protection Committee members in the Northern Sector of the Abyei Area is therefore ground-breaking. He announced that the inauguration would be closely followed by strengthening of the criminal justice system by bringing on board courts such as traditional courts and other forms of courts within Municipal law to handle criminal matters reported at CPC stations.

General Sawyerr told the newly commissioned CPC members that in the absence of a well-structured police service, their vital role as Community Protection Committee members in maintaining law and order is a security imperative. He charged them to shun corruption, high-handedness, and brutality in the discharge of their duties, stressing that UNISFA would immediately provide them appropriate basic policing education that would cover such areas as investigation, report writing, rights of detainees, search of suspects and initiative-taking policing. He also charged them to brace up to their daily tasks which include provision of security for lives and property, gathering of credible and timely community-based intelligence for crime prevention and reductions, and such other activities geared towards ensuring protection of civilians and promotion of the rule of law.

General Sawyerr called on the traditional leadership, the local administration and the community members to accord the CPC full support and cooperation to enable them to discharge their duties for the benefit of the community, stressing that with the CPC in place, there will be effective corroboration on matters of the rule of law in the Northern Sector between UNISFA and the local community in curbing criminality. He specially applauded the government of Sudan for accepting and authorizing the establishment of CPC in the northern sector. The Ag HoM and FC UNISFA also applauded the efforts of the UNISFA Police Commissioner Violet Nasambu Lusala and her UNPOL Team for ensuring that the CPC was established.

UNISFA Police Commissioner, Ms. Violet Nasambu Lusala in her remarks stated that the CPC would be the face of UN Police in enhancing rule of law in the community in the absence of Abyei Police service, adding that where there is rule of law, there is no hatred or violence but love, peace, and development. She said the mission expects them to play a key role on issues such as Sexual and Gender-based Violence, cattle rustling and theft and assured of UNPOL and UNISFA’s Support to enable them to successfully conduct their activities.

Commissioner Lusala also reminded the CPC members that whilst discharging their duties, they are expected to be unarmed as the only entities authorized to carry arms in the box by UNISFA mandates are UNISFA TCC and the Abyei Police Service once established. She said the UN Police Shall soon commence training and mentoring and co-locate with them to enhance their performance. She thanked Assistant Commissioner of Police Usman Abdulrahman and his Team for the efforts in establishing the CPC.

The Khartoum appointed Chief Administrator, Gumaa Dawood, applauded UNISFA’s resilience in ensuring the establishment of the CPC and said it was critical to peace and security in the area. He called of the CPC members to be responsible and advocated for incentives for them since it was voluntary.

The Representative of the Misseriya Paramount Chief, Aljak Suliman Pledged the cooperation and support of the traditional leadership, while the Women Representative appealed for inclusion of women to manage women related issues including sexual and gender-based violence. The representative of the youth also pledged the support of the youth and requested for increased youth participation as a guarantee for sustainable peace and stability in the area. Administrative and logistics items such as writing materials, plastic sheets, raincoats, and gum boots were presented to the CPC to start their operations.

The first ever Temporary CPC Station was also commission for Dari in Diffra during the occasion. It can be recalled that both SCR 2609 15 December 2021 and SCR 2930 of 2022 welcomed UNISFA’s continued efforts, in close coordination with the Misseriya and Ngok Dinka communities to strengthen the capacities of Community Protection Committees to assist with management of law and order in Abyei in the absence of a functional Police Service.