Slideshow Banner4 WHAT we do

1948 Myanmar (also known as Burma) gains independence from Britain. Civil wars break out almost immediately as ethnic people demand greater autonomy.

1962 Army general Ne Win stages a coup against the elected government and creates a one-party state. Civil wars continue. In subsequent years, some ceasefire pacts are signed, but conflict also continues in many areas.

1995 The military leaders had by then signed several ceasefire agreements with ethnic-armed organizations.

2008 A new constitution is introduced.

2009 The military leaders demand that all "ceasefire groups" transform into "Border Guard Forces" and accept the command of the Myanmar army. Many armed organizations refuse.

2009 Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi begins talks with Myanmar’s military leaders and is allowed to meet Western diplomats.

2010 Federal elections are held, which introduce the first civilian government. Twenty-five percent of the Parliament seats are allocated to the military.

2011 The Myanmar government starts a 3-phased peace initiative with ethnic groups (ceasefire, confidence-building and political dialogue, and agreement for eternal peace).

2012 By mid-2012, 13 groups across the country have signed bilateral ceasefire agreements with the government.

2013 Leaders of 17 ethnic armed groups establish a Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT), which will represent them in negotiations with a government peace negotiation team, the Union Peace Working Committee (UPWC).

2015 16 ethnic-armed organizations and the government sign a draft ceasefire agreement. Negotiations continue.

Read more: Profile of the Conflict in Myanmar

On 15 October, the government of Myanmar and eight Ethnic Armed Organizations signed a long-awaited joint ceasefire agreement. The event marked the culmination of more than two years of negotiations between the government and a consortium of Ethnic Armed Organizations. In the capital city of Naypyitaw, Myanmar’s President, the Army Commander-in-Chief, parliamentary leaders and the leaders of the eight Ethnic Armed Organizations signed the agreement in the presence of six international and 20 domestic witnesses.

Even though a number of Ethnic Armed Organizations that have been part of the negotiations have decided to not to sign the agreement at this time, it is an important step towards securing a just and sustainable peace in Myanmar. The signing of the ceasefire agreement opens the door to a political dialogue process, which aims to address the underlying causes of the armed conflict that has lasted more than 60 years in Myanmar.

Read more: Joint Ceasefire Agreement in Myanmar

During its May monthly meeting with Nonviolent Peaceforce, the Women’s Peacekeeping Team in the Bor Protection of Civilians area decided to focus on tackling the high levels of alcohol consumption as a means to mitigate conflict in the area. With so many residents suffering from depression and trauma, alcohol consumption has become a cheap and accessible, albeit negative, coping mechanism.

In response, the Women’s Peacekeeping Team resolved to provide direct support, mentorship, and informal case management to those abusing alcohol. In its most recent monthly meeting with Nonviolent Peaceforce, the Women’s Peacekeeping Team began sharing stories of its successes and challenges.

One woman recounted how she is supporting an alcoholic young man recently diagnosed with tuberculosis. She ensured that the young man was admitted to the International Rescue Committee (IRC) clinic for proper treatment and that he abstains from alcohol during that time. Since the young man has no relatives in the Protection of Civilians area, she is also volunteering to bring him food while he is recovering.

Read more: Women's Peacekeeping Team in Bor, South Sudan Tackles Alcohol Abuse

Food Distribution in South SudanSince the outbreak of the civil war in 2013, South Sudan has been afflicted by violence, instability, and starvation. The intense conflict has created 1.6 million internally displaced people, rendering large populations to be in need of basic services. Many civilians do not have access to food, water, and shelter due to the violence and massacres conducted by rival militias. As the conflict continues, (despite the most recent peace agreement) there is a vital need for humanitarian aid to provide protection and basic resources to affected populations.

 

NP has been operating in South Sudan since 2010, and was one of the few humanitarian organizations to stay on the ground in the face of conflict. NP organized field teams at four of the biggest displacement sites, and grew to to be the largest protection agency within South Sudan. Much of the success can be attributed to the ability of the field teams to strategically adapt to emergency situations on the ground. Since the beginning of the conflict, NP has been at the frontlines of the crisis and largely contributed to the current humanitarian response. NP employs a complex strategy, which consists of emergency response work, prevention interventions, and food distributions.

 

The distribution of food and non-food items (NFIs) during South Sudan’s crisis is a vital lifeline towards survival and well-being of the nation. The General Food Distribution (GFD) takes place all over the country to aid a traumatized population, who are likely to have limited or no access to food or resources. General Food Distributions are a complex operation and require careful planning to ensure efficient assistance to vulnerable populations, while providing safety and protection for all involved.

Read more: Protecting Vulnerable People During Food Distributions in South Sudan

"We were hopeless but you found our father

In September, Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) team in Bor (South Sudan) successfully reunified 14 children with their parents in Akobo. The children were living in the Bor, Protection of Civilians site, after being separated from their parents during the conflict in 2013. They have spent the last 18 months living with relatives or in foster care within the Bor Protection of Civilians site. In September, their long-awaited dreams of being reunited with their parents came true.

To indentify the children and reunify them with their parents in Akobo, the NP's South Sudan team in Bor used a system called Rapid Family Tracing and Reunification (FTR). This system acts as a tool for humanitarian aid workers to assess the situation of separated children, register and upload photos of the children, search for family members, and share vital information with other trusted organizations. The system is used to locate thousands of children and caregivers separated as a result of the conflict. Using data from NP, the Save the Children team in Akobo identified and matched the children with their parents. All of them were very eager to be reunited.

Read more: Reuniting Families in South Sudan

Over the past few months, the Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) Bor team in South Sudan has been working with a group of adolescent girls in Bor Town. The NP Bor team efforts focus on supporting them in addressing protection challenges they face in their community.

A couple of protection issues the girls face relate to gathering water from the borehole in the community. At times, the girls need to gather water from the borehole at night and they are at risk of being abused by men drinking in the area. Secondly, a very large community is sharing just one borehole, giving rise to conflicts. For instance, one girl was slapped when she politely told another woman not to jump the queue. The girls recently requested an opportunity to present their protection concerns in the bi-monthly chiefs meeting. The bi-monthly chiefs' meeting is an NP-sponsored forum that hosts many of the leaders in Bor Town. For the past year, the NP team has been convening local government officials, humanitarian partners, and the block leaders/chiefs of Bor Town for bi-monthly meetings to create a regular forum for dialogue.

Read more: Engaging Female Youth in Monthly Chief Meetings in Bor, South Sudan

In July and August, negotiators of a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) in Myanmar intensified their efforts to conclude a deal before the campaign season for the upcoming elections kicks off. During this same time, heavy monsoon rains poured down, causing widespread flooding around the country. Nonviolent Peaceforce is working in several states to support civilian ceasefire and protection monitoring mechanisms. Among these states, Chin has been the most severely affected by the floods and subsequent landslides. Some of the monitors and Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) partners halted their usual activities in order to respond to the situation and support relief efforts. Others were simply unable to continue or communicate their activities as landslides blocked the roads and internet connections were interrupted. Citizens in Yangon and other cities flocked the streets to collect donations in a display of solidarity with flood-affected communities.

While monsoon rains created havoc around the country, negotiators of the government’s Union Peacemaking Work Committee (UPWC) and the ethnic armed group’s Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) continued to address outstanding issues. They were able to reach an agreement on most of the provisions in the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement text and excerpts of the text were released to the public in August. A Senior Delegation of ethnic leaders is expected to meet with the president and the commander in chief in September. During that time, they will work to finalize the National Ceasefire Agreement and discuss any outstanding issues.

Read more: Updates from Myanmar

“If you want to educate a nation, educate a woman.” -African Proverb.

Ulang1Cultural norms and social expectations can lead young people, particularly young men, in South Sudan to participate in violence. Nonviolent Peaceforce’s training of women illustrates how violence can be prevented as cultural expectations and gender roles are challenged.

According to Nuer culture in South Sudan, an adult is any person who has been initiated i.e. facially marked. Therefore, any male with facial marking is considered a man ̶ ̶ even if he is less than 17 years old. An important aspect of being a man is to protect the community from perceived threats. This results in many boys being recruited and enticed in going to war. Although there might not always be direct mobilization of young boys, socially they are expected to participate in conflict.

Read more: Ulang Women's Peacekeeping Team Stops Child Recruitment

Location: Juba, South Sudan

By Nonviolent Peaceforce Office in South Sudan

Background/Context

SS Security 2The establishment of Community Protection Teams (CPTs) in a Juba's Protection of Civilians sites stems from a "community engagement strategy." Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) began implementing this strategy last year in the Juba Protection of Civilians site. Our contacts with both women and youth leadership were established through different activities, following the framework of the community engagement strategy. This included activities such as recreational and sports activities, workshops, focus group discussions and so forth.

We acknowledged that both youth, including children, and women were among the groups most affected by violence and insecurity (either as victims/survivors or perpetrators). We were also aware that these specific community members perceived that they were poorly represented in the community-led management of the camp affairs. Additionally, they felt they had minimal participation in the local structures of power and decision-making processes.

Read more: Engaging a Community in Security Issues at Protection of Civilians Sites