Home | Comment & Analysis    Saturday 6 September 2003

Swiss police officer keeps the peace in Sudanese Nuba Mountains


By Karin Kamp

Swissinfo, on September 6, 2003

A Zurich police officer, Mark Steininger, has just returned from a six-month stint in the Sudanese Nuba Mountains where he was sent to monitor a ceasefire.

In January 2002, a ceasefire agreement was negotiated in Switzerland to end more than 20 years of civil war in Sudan - mainly between the Muslim north and the Christian south.

JPEG - 10.4 kb
Mark Steininger spent six months in Sudan with the JMC (swissinfo)

Steininger was part of the Joint Military Commission (JMC) that ensures government forces and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army stick to their agreement to put down their weapons. swissinfo spoke to him on his return.

swissinfo: Can you describe a typical day on your mission?

Marc Steininger: There was no typical day because things could change from one minute to the next. If we got news that someone had been arrested then we would immediately have to follow the case up. We also went on patrol on a regular basis to show the flag and talk to the people.

swissinfo: What do you mean show the flag?

M.S.: To show that JMC is around. The people were very happy that JMC was in Sudan, especially in the Nuba Mountains. Thousands of [displaced] people were moving back to the area, which was affected by the war.

swissinfo: What is the mood amongst the people there?

M.S.: I think they simply enjoy having peace and going about their daily life. They seem happy that the war is behind them - of course there is no peace agreement at the moment - but I think they’re looking forward to peace.

swissinfo: What kind of issues did the people there talk to you about?

M.S.: In the beginning it was always the family because I think they were just trying to be polite and that’s the way they deal with each other. They make small talk first and then talk about problems.

For example, some people would tell me that a goat or a cow had been stolen. All the people had some kind of problem, which they wanted to discuss with JMC. In the end, it was usually something like a stolen goat and how to deal with it.

swissinfo: How did the people respond to you being there?

M.S.: They were quite friendly. The hospitality was outstanding in Sudan and I was rather surprised. The people were really happy and cheerful when they saw us. And on some days we made many coffee stops and talked to people. People needed to talk to us because they constantly had questions about the ceasefire agreement, ceasefire violations and about the future. We were there trying to help and give answers.

swissinfo: What’s it like going from working as a police officer in Zurich to being in Sudan?

M.S.: It’s a challenge, but I really liked it. It would be good if every policeman joined a mission at least once because I think the social competence that you can gain in a mission is quite high. You might see things differently when you come back and that’s a really good thing, especially when you work as a police officer.

swissinfo: What kind of social competence does one get in that situation?

M.S.: I think you learn a lot about different cultures, and one thing you learn for sure in Sudan is patience, because time does not pass the way it does in Switzerland. You also talk to people that have faced war, they don’t live in a safe and secure environment like in Zurich.

I think it’s important that we see what kind of other problems there are on this planet.

swissinfo: What do you think the prospects for peace are in Sudan?

M.S.: I think the people there are ready, they’re looking forward to peace but it’s difficult to predict because the mood could change in hours. But what I can say is that people are definitely ready for peace.

The views expressed in the 'Comment and Analysis' section are solely the opinions of the writers. The veracity of any claims made are the responsibility of the author not Sudan Tribune.

If you want to submit an opinion piece or an analysis please email it to comment@sudantribune.com

Sudan Tribune reserves the right to edit articles before publication. Please include your full name, relevant personal information and political affiliations.
Comments on the Sudan Tribune website must abide by the following rules. Contravention of these rules will lead to the user losing their Sudan Tribune account with immediate effect.

- No inciting violence
- No inappropriate or offensive language
- No racism, tribalism or sectarianism
- No inappropriate or derogatory remarks
- No deviation from the topic of the article
- No advertising, spamming or links
- No incomprehensible comments

Due to the unprecedented amount of racist and offensive language on the site, Sudan Tribune tries to vet all comments on the site.

There is now also a limit of 400 words per comment. If you want to express yourself in more detail than this allows, please e-mail your comment as an article to comment@sudantribune.com

Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

The following ads are provided by Google. SudanTribune has no authority on it.

Sudan Tribune

Promote your Page too

Latest Comments & Analysis

The political calculations of Sudan’s military regime 2019-04-22 20:37:26 How Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was overthrown and what happens next in Sudan By Ahmed H Adam* On April 11, after 30 years in power, the longstanding dictator, General Omar al-Bashir, was (...)

Will the military or the people lead Sudan? 2019-04-22 16:25:04 Support by regional and international partners will be critical to address the economic crisis, as well as the reformation of government institutions, ministries and security agencies By Ahmed (...)

Will uprising in Sudan provide a new political dispensation? 2019-04-20 06:25:31 By Luka Kuol* The recent wave of uprising in some African countries shows the new means of contesting the African rulers who stayed in power for so long and are hardly to be unseated through the (...)


Latest Press Releases

South Sudan’s Lafon youth condemn killings of civilians by Pari community 2019-04-03 21:54:29 Press Statement on the Fighting between Pari/ Pacidi and Lotuko/Lokiri on 24/3/2019 Release by The Lafon County Youth Union: We, the Lafon County Youth Union hereby condemn the atrocities and (...)

Joseph Malwal Dong joined the SPLM/A -IO 2019-04-02 08:35:02 SPLM/A (IO) Press Release 1/4/2019 On Hon. Joseph Malwal Dong Joined the SPLM/A (IO) The leadership of the SPLM/A (IO) would like to seize this precious opportunity to announce to members and (...)

Sudan Protests: Investigate the custodial death of three University students 2019-03-13 12:53:14 The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) Sudan Protests: Urgent call for investigations into the custodial death of three University students and alleged torture of detainees by (...)


Copyright © 2003-2019 SudanTribune - All rights reserved.