UN and South Sudanese police are doing frequent joint patrols in Jonglei State. Photos: Gideon Sackitey/UNMISS
From the outskirts, Anyidi looks deserted, with a long dry season having taken its toll. Scattered green patches do, however, spell good news: the imminent arrival of times of much-needed rain.
But on this day, a team of UN police officers serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan arrives before the wet gifts of heaven.
Stationed in Bor, the team also consists of officers from the South Sudan National Police Service. They are all here to show the presence of law enforcement, the cooperation between peacekeepers and national police and to build trust and confidence in the district of Anyidi Payam (an administrative division).
“This short-distance patrol is also an opportunity to inspect the police post built here last year, financed by the peacekeeping mission,” says Superintendent Dorothy Namasiku Nyambe, the police coordinator at the UNMISS field office in Bor, adding that their visit is vital to assure local police officers on the ground that they can count on continued technical assistance and advice from their UN colleagues.
Anyidi town is fast establishing itself as a major trading post where cattle from the neighbouring Greater Pibor Administrative Area is sold. From here, traders continue to Bor to buy essential supplies before heading back to Pibor.
“Most of the youth here are armed, and the risk of frictions between visiting traders and residents is real. Our joint presence on the ground gives them [traders] the assurance they need to go about their normal business,” comments Akech Mapio, a Lieutenant of the South Sudanese police and advisor to the Jonglei State Police Commissioner.
The vibe is different in Makuach, where the patrol team goes next. Here, local police officers are still recovering from the shock of having six colleagues shot dead and another 21 being wounded during vicious intercommunal fighting in July last year.
“One of the officers who witnessed the carnage needs psychosocial support, which he has not yet received, but we are happy to see UN police visiting us and we hope we will see you here more often as we more forward,” says Corporal Mabior Meriel, officer in charge on the day.
Mabior and his colleagues, not to mention the women living in Makuach, are having a difficult a time during the dry season.
“We have no clean drinking water here. We get water from a shallow stream two hours away, and then we have to boil it before we can drink it. Fetching water every day is very tiring for our women,” he says, adding that mattresses and blankets are also in short supply.