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East Africa: UN Missions to Prioritise Gender, Sexual Violence Fight

The second intermission retreat bringing together top UN officials from South Sudan, Darfur and Abyei have resolved to put protection of civilians and fighting sexual and gender based violence at the top of their priorities.

While speaking to the media, yesterday, Shaowen Yang, the UN Deputy Police Advisor, said that “sexual and gender-based violence is one of the identified and common challenge in all the three missions. We have classified it as a priority alongside protection of civilians.”

“We visited a number of facilities in Rwanda including Isange One Stop Centre; we are very impressed by the job done here and it has given us very good lessons and one of the best practices we need to learn and share with the police components to improve in response to SGBV in missions.”

Isange, currently operates in 45 hospitals across the country and offers free medical, psycho-socio and legal services to victims of GBV and child abuse.

“The retreat looked at cross-cutting issues that UN peacekeeping is facing particularly in Darfur, South Sudan and Abyei. We have concluded that we strengthen intermission interaction and cooperation, comply with UN Security Council resolution regarding the implementation of our mandates especially with policing issues on the ground,” Yang said.

“In implementing those policies and strategies, we have started our approaches on how to work together to maintain law and order, be part of the political process to facilitate final resolutions in conflict and post-conflict context.”

He further noted that they identified a number of issues to be adjusted in missions especially regarding the policing ideology, the mandates, strategies and operational issues.

The three-day retreat brought together Police Commissioners and senior police advisors, Chiefs of Staff, Chiefs of Operations and all essential staff members from UNMISS (South Sudan), UNAMID (Darfur) and UNISFA (Abyei)

The Police Commissioner for UNAMID, Priscilla Mukotose said that the three missions share the same geo-political environment.

“Apart from the fact that we have a number of Rwandans serving in these missions, we also find that the issues we meet in the mission areas are also relevant here (Rwanda),” said Mukotose.

“Having had our retreat in Rwanda, we were able to confirm after visiting the Rwanda National Police Peace Support Training Centre why we get well trained and qualified Rwandan police peacekeepers, which has already been certified in the mission because Rwandan police peacekeepers work so hard and are highly disciplined,” she added.

“It is encouraging to see where they are coming from… where they are getting all this capacity and capabilities to excel in mission areas.”

Visit to Kigali Genocide memorial

Meanwhile, the delegation also visited Kigali Genocide memorial, yesterday, where they laid wreaths as they paid tribute to more than one million innocent lives killed in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

The UNAMID Police Commissioner lauded Rwanda’s progress in the reconstruction process following the Genocide that left the country in ruins.

“We want to recognise Rwanda; they went through so much… you can’t understand how people could do this. Certainly as peacekeepers, we wish that this peace lasts and you remain portraying to the world the fact that you have come through this tragedy of Genocide,” she said.

“Everyone can see what you are doing and how far you have gone, and I hope other nations will learn never to break down to the level of genocide.”

Her counterpart of Abyei, Assistant Commissioner of Police Mohamed F. Suray from Ghana, said: “We have learnt a lot from the progress RNP has achieved in terms of community policing, road traffic management, general security even in the night. This is remarkable. The city is safe, neat. It has what other cities should copy.”

©Alleastafrica and The New Times

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