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Rwandan peacekeepers introduce community service in S. Sudan

November 12, 2017 (JUBA) - Rwandan peacekeepers serving in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) have introduced voluntary community cleaning exercise to ensure hygiene, sanitation and other human security activities in the internally displaced peoples’ camps within the war-torn East African country.

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An honour guard of Rwandan peacekeepers welcomes the Secretary-General at the UNMISS Tomping Base, Juba May 6, 2014 (Photo UN)

The Rwandan homegrown initiative, also known as Umuganda, was launched in Protection of Civilian (POC) 3, an IDP camp that accommodates over 33, 000 internally displaced South Sudanese.

POC 3 is currently under the protection of Rwanda police peacekeepers.

The peacekeepers, joined by the camp community leadership and the people on Saturday, cleared bushes, cleaned the streets, water trenches and collected littered waste, including plastic bags.

The contingent commander of the Rwandan peacekeepers in Juba, Bosco Rangira, and the chairman of POC3, Charles Riek Wal, as well as zone leaders in the IDP camp, headed the community exercise.

Rangira said the exercise was conducted in the spirit of community policing, to interact with the people they serve on daily basis, and to uphold national values.

While addressing the people shortly after the official launch of Umuganda, the contingent commander thanked the population for the big turn up and usual cooperation in the security operation.

He stressed that the activity was initiated purposely to “share original Rwandan home-grown initiatives of keeping the camp clean, protect the environment and be solution to the problems.”

Similar activities will be conducted monthly, the event organizers said.

The camp chairperson, Charles Riek Wal, lauded the Rwandan peacekeepers in South Sudan, for the “noble work to keep us safe” and urged the IDPs to equally own it and make it part of their culture.

Wal particularly commended the role Rwandan peacekeepers played in protecting them during the July 2013 crisis, saying that “without your protection possibly most of us here wouldn’t be alive.”

He reassured partnership with the Rwandan peacekeepers in ensuring security of the IDPs and other community activities, and urged people to support and own such human security initiatives.

There are about 430 Rwandan police peacekeepers serving in South Sudan, including two 400-strong Formed Police Units. Others serve as individual police pfficers, who mainly act as advisors and mentors.

Rwandan peacekeepers have introduced and conducted similar Umuganda activities in different UN missions across the world, where they have been credited for teaching people values of partnership in security and development.

(ST)