The return of relative calm to a village in Torit has prompted an influx of people returning to their homes.
The Enyif community abandoned their village after a spate of crime, including rape and thefts as well as incidents of communal violence. But they are finally confident enough to come home.
“The security in the area here is now better. Women and girls are protected. The community policing committee members restrict movement, especially of any girls who loiter at night,” said resident Winny Iliha Cyprian.
The improved security situation is the result of a combined effort by the United Nations Police and the South Sudanese National Police Service through a Police Community Relations Committee that was formed to ensure safety through monitoring and regular meetings with community members.
“We are here only as a bridge between the South Sudan National Police officers and you. We hope that crimes will be easily solved with the help of each member of the community,” explained Stalin Chacon Alberto, a UN police officer, in charge of community policing. “Our role is to give the necessary technical advice, monitor and report,” he added.
Despite the seemingly overwhelming obstacles faced by members of the committee, such as risks involved in night patrols and lack of proper equipment, they fearlessly take to the streets to ensure law and order in the area.
In December, for instance, the committee members detained three rapists as well as several thieves and robbers and handed them to the Torit central police station for investigation and prosecution.
“The tranquility in my village today is because UNMISS popped in to show us the best way to keep peace and security through good advice,” said Lino Mangat, chief of Enyif.
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan continues to work with the South Sudan Police Service to monitor and assess the performance of the community policing committee in the town and plans to replicate its success in surrounding towns.
With the improved security situation comes the desire to see development in the area. According to some members of Enyif community, they are cut off from social and government services especially during the rainy season.
“The Kinati and Loula rivers overflow their banks and prevent movement of our children to schools in Torit town during the rains,” lamented Franker Mathew, a mother and a member of the Police Community Relations Committee. “We call on government to construct a good bridge or fix the broken culverts for easy crossing.”