Despite living a mere 42 kilometers from South Sudan's capital, communities in Kuda knew little about their rights, plagued as they were with cattle raids, conflict and a lack of access to necessary services. Thanks to an UNMISS-led training, 61 residents have actively gained necessary knowledge on their human rights, plus come up with innovative solutions to ameliorate their problems. Photo by Blessings Phumisa/UNMISS
CENTRAL EQUATORIA - Located just 42 kilometers from South Sudan's capital, Juba, communities in Kuda live relatively close to the political heart of the world’s newest nation.
Ironically, many residents here have little or no understanding of state institutions or their responsibilities towards the people they represent.
However, community members recently participated in a significant opportunity to learn more about their rights and the importance of ensuring all civilians are protected, thanks to a two-day training by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
More than 61 individuals—local leaders, uniformed personnel, women, and youth groups—
attended the forum which focused on building their capacities and knowledge on key issues such as human rights obligations, civil-military relations, and conflict management.
Interactive and engaging sessions covered other critical topics such as climate security, gender mainstreaming, as well as an explainer session on the UN Peacekeeping mission’s mandate to protect civilians who are under imminent threat of violence.
Additionally, participants learned about the challenges faced by refugees and internally displaced persons as well as the dangers of landmines and unexploded ordnance, plus their devastating impact on people’s lives.
“Communities living in Kuda have witnessed intercommunal conflict, cattle raids, human rights violations, and strained relationships between civilians and uniformed actors. This two-day engagement, therefore, is a chance for productive dialogues between community members and uniformed personnel, an opportunity to share concerns and begin building relationships of trust,” revealed Cephus Diggs, Team Leader, UNMISS Protection, Transition and Reintegration.
Lack of access to healthcare and education, land grabbing and violence against women and girls, including early marriages, were some common concerns voiced by participants, as were frequent cattle raids.
Possible solutions to these ills were also floated by participants themselves, such as ensuring cattle keepers head back to their places of origin; disarming civilians; providing access to health services and clean water; educating individuals on their rights; and, vitally, intensifying protection of civilians.
Reflecting on the workshop, 62-year-old Grace Kane Timoni, a woman leader from the community, expressed her appreciation, saying, "As a leader, conflict management is an important tool that will help me and members of my community in resolving a number of issues affecting us. I came here as a blank slate but am going back home full of new knowledge and ideas. Above all, I am filled with hope that we can advocate for a better, more peaceful life."
The training was conducted by the UN Peacekeeping mission’s Protection, Transition and Reintegration Section.