Slideshow Banner4 WHAT we do

By Jan Passion

Learning how to strategically crawl away when there is live gunfire

Training, training, training.

A key cornerstone for effective unarmed civilian protection (UCP) is our emphasis on training. Recruiting capable and talented staff and then providing them with the training and support needed to work in volatile, vulnerable and violent conflict regions.

GUNFIRE! GUNFIRE! RUN TO SAFE ZONE ONE! RUN TO SAFE ZONE ONE!
Midway through the training, sometime after the generator was shut down, the trainers woke the 23 participants to the sound of live gun fire, as well as the makeshift imitation cracking of a machine gun. The staff also started two large fires near the participant’s tents. We then shouted “GUNFIRE! GUNFIRE! RUN TO SAFE ZONE ONE! RUN TO SAFE ZONE ONE!!!” Some participants, dazed after being torn from sleep, knew exactly where to run and what to bring with them... and some did not. There were simulated injuries, and the slowest two participants were detained and ‘interrogated’ by a ‘local militia.’

A trained nurse (who happens to work for NP in our field staff) was compelled to provide simulated emergency medical care – first to one of the ‘soldiers’ and then to a participant who had a simulated injury, while the rest of the participants were sheltering in Safe Zone 1 and trying to sort out what to do regarding the situation, and regarding their missing (detained) colleagues.

Read more: Mission Preparedness Training - Western Equatoria, South Sudan, April 2015

Statement peace agreementAugust 28, 2015

"This week, the final signature was placed onto the South Sudan peace agreement. In doing so, all parties to the conflict have indicated their intentions to end the violent conflict that has rocked South Sudan for the past 21 months. While the signing of the agreement is not a guarantee of peace, it is a public declaration of constructive, peaceful and positive intentions to end the war.  

Having been on the front line of the conflict since the first day, the Nonviolent Peaceforce team is greatly relieved at the signing of the agreement and we want to extend our appreciation and support to the parties as they move into this new phase. We look forward to seeing strong, people centred leadership and action to move into the implementation of this agreement starting with an urgent and immediate cessation of hostilities. Getting to peace is as complicated if not more so than getting to war. The road ahead will be a long one that will take the dedication of all South Sudanese and the support of the international community to engage in reconciliation, justice and reconstruction.

The people of South Sudan deserve real peace and the opportunity to build the country that was so long struggled for. The Nonviolent Peaceforce team is committed to supporting our South Sudanese brothers and sisters in working for peace."

Country Director in South Sudan, Tiffany Easthom

 

 

By Nonviolent Peaceforce Office in South Sudan

One aspect of our work in the field that often gets overlooked is the actions that NP field teams take before they leave a site. These actions are taken to ensure that the progress made in the community does not disappear. Recently, one of our field team members reflected on the importance of this sustainability:

Mingakaman National and International Protection OfficersAlthough we often talk about working to make our Women’s Peacekeeping Teams (WPTs), Child Protection Teams (CPTs), and youth groups sustainable, actively planning for sustainability is much more difficult to achieve. Our engagements with these community groups often follow a regular pattern of formation, training, action planning, and follow-up meetings. Once we learn that the groups are conducting activities independently, we may assume that they are sustainable. But how do we know? What does sustainability look like to us, and most importantly, what does sustainability mean to these groups?

Based on the useful experience of the Mingkaman team, described here, I’d like to suggest that the other teams take a similar approach, even if we’re not closing the site any time soon. We should be asking our groups on a regular basis, “What skills and support do you need to be able to continue your work successfully and confidently after we leave?” This approach builds on our core principle of the primacy of local actors, placing the responsibility on the groups to define what sustainability means to them, what they need to reach sustainability, and how effective we’re being as a team in providing them with the necessary support. Moreover, by planning for sustainability long in advance and through a participatory process, we can ensure that once we do decide to stop our direct support of these groups, both they and we are prepared for a smooth handover and are confident that the outcomes achieved will be sustainable beyond NP’s presence.

By Nonviolent Peaceforce Office in South Sudan

WPT SSFollowing the announcement of the closure of the Mingkaman field site at the end of May, the Nonviolent Peaceforce team informed the Women's Peacekeeping Team (WPT) of our departure. In doing so, the team asked, “What skills and support do you need to be able to continue your work successfully and confidently after we leave?” Despite the inevitable requests for gumboots, raincoats, office space, vehicles, and radios, the chairlady offered a brilliant response: “We need identity and credibility.”

The Nonviolent Peaceforce team explained that they might be able to support the Women's Peacekeeping Teams with uniforms as a key means to building a sense of identity. However, they emphasized the t-shirts would only be successful in that way, if they were used solely while the women were serving in their WPT functions. The team reinforced that the uniforms belonged not to the individuals, but to the Women's Peacekeeping Team itself. If the t-shirts were used simply when the women had no clean laundry, they would lose their intended value as identification. The women acknowledged that the uniforms would be like church clothes, which you only wear for a particular occasion.

The Nonviolent Peaceforce team noted the women themselves had to earn credibility from their community. They also stated that the most constructive way to do so would be to respond to and resolve cases of conflicts quickly, effectively, and peacefully. NP offered support in building the women's capacity to do this and shared ideas to allow the WPT to be successful in their case management.

To do this, the team asked, “What are the cases you are still unable to resolve and why?” This led to a fruitful conversation about the ongoing challenges the women face trying to protect women from harassment during firewood collection. The Women's Peacekeeping Team has been able to effectively mobilize women to go out in groups. However, some women who are slower due to age, illness, or other vulnerabilities may be left behind as other women become impatient waiting in the hot sun. The WPT also raised the challenge of resolving conflicts around the communal latrines. They noted that while everyone used the latrines, only a few families were agreeing to help clean them. Some families had gone so far as the hide the keys.

Read more: Supporting Women Peacekeeping Teams to Build “Identity” and “Credibility” in Mingkaman, South Sudan

By Ashish Pandey, Field Associate

15 June 2015

Learning about the history of the Mindanao Philippines conflictNonviolent Peaceforce (NP) in Myanmar facilitated a week-long exposure visit to Mindanao in the last week of May with representatives of the civilian ceasefire monitoring network in Mon State. The network was established by the Shalom Foundation, with the support of NP, in 2014. The objective of the visit was to learn from the experiences of the civilian ceasefire monitoring network in Mindanao; so that the monitors in Mon State can further strengthen their own network.

Min Aung Htoo, the Secretary of the Mon Civilian Ceasefire Mechanism (network), explained "Mon State, like Mindanao, has been affected by conflict for decades. A peace process is underway in Mindanao and local CSOs (civil society organizations) have contributed in ceasefire monitoring, thus complementing the formal ceasefire network. Therefore, with this visit, the participants want to learn from the Mindanao experience and see if any of this learning could be implemented in Mon State."

Currently, the government in Myanmar is negotiating a nationwide ceasefire deal with many ethnic armed groups with the aim of bringing an end to the decades-long conflict that has left thousands dead and millions displaced. In contrast, the peace process in Mindanao has matured through the years with the engagement of the key actors and civilians alike.

Read more: Civilian Monitors from Mon State, Myanmar, Learn Lessons about Civilian Ceasefire Monitoring in...

By Amy Hansen, Nonviolent Peaceforce Communications and Development Associate

Left: National Protection Officers, Peter and Wani with children in Juba Protection of Civilians site. (South Sudan)This spring, my colleague Simon Meynsbrughen (Communications Coordinator at Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium) and I visited Nonviolent Peaceforce’s program in South Sudan. We had an opportunity to visit our field program in the Protection of Civilian (PoC) site in South Sudan’s capital, Juba. At this field site, Simon and I sat in on a community meeting facilitated by Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) staff.

Attendees of this meeting were unpaid volunteers looking to form a Community Protection Team. NP International Protection Officer, Janet, facilitated the meeting. Although the community members spoke Nuer, with discussion between Janet and the translator, I could make out that child safety was a big concern for the community.

Hundreds of unaccompanied children live in the Protection of Civilians area. As female National Protection Officer Nyakuma pointed out in a video interview, "The children living in the PoC alone... it's very hard for them to live alone without their parents, because some of them, their parents were killed. And they live like street children. And sometimes you get a child who is just sleeping along the roadside and sometimes near the tukul* of those in the PoC. It's really very hard. Unless those who have sympathy on people will see the children and take the child in the room and stay together with them."

Read more: Visiting a Protection of Civilians Site in Juba, South Sudan

by Nonviolent Peaceforce office in South Sudan

cpc2After months of preparation, the Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) team based in Juba's Protection of Civilians sites has successfully promoted two local community-based "Child Protection Committees." Simultaneously, the "Child Protection Working Group" for UN House, chaired by NP and co-chaired at the initial phase by Terres des hommes (TdH), is already in operation. These achievements have special significance, as they complement each other and form a unique approach. That is, the "Child Protection Committee" works from a bottom up level and the "Child Protection Working Group" works from a top down level. Through these strategies, NP strives to install a comprehensive approach on child protection that responds to the specific needs annunciated by local actors in the field, (i.e. Child Protection Committees) while also providing a more strategic, and decision-making forum involving multi-stakeholders (i.e. Child Protection Working Groups).

Read more: Promoting Child Protection from a Bottom Up and Top Down Approach

Community celebration in Mundri during 2011.“Today, the 4th anniversary of the independence of South Sudan, I cannot help but reflect back on the 5 years that I have lived here -- all the challenges, the excitement and the extraordinary people I have been nothing short of blessed to have met. Perhaps what stands out most clearly is the way that hope and despair, joy and heartbreak all exist at the same time, in the same place, and in the same people often in equal measure in this country. I will never forget February 9th, 2011, the day of the referendum that allowed the people of what was then southern Sudan to vote to choose to be an independent country.

We, the NP team, spent the day moving between voting stations, and to this day I am moved remembering the pride and joy people had. They lined up in their best clothes, waving their registration cards in the air ready to vote. I remember how they all had tragic stories to share about the struggles to get to that day. I remember speaking with one woman who told me that she was dedicating her vote to her father and her grandfather who had both been killed in the decades long civil war preceding the referendum. She flashed the biggest smile you can imagine and had tears flowing down her cheeks at the same moment.

Read more: Message from Country Director, Tiffany Easthom, on the Fourth Anniversary of South Sudan's...

South Sudan womenOver the past several months, the Protection of Civilians area in Bor has experienced rampant conflict. This has resulted from problems of adultery along with the production, sale, and consumption of locally brewed alcohol. Women are among those most affected by these protection challenges. These “adultery cases” are often a form of survival sex.

In these cases, the women whose husbands are not living in the protection area may foster relationships with other men in the community to obtain emotional and financial support. Selling alcohol is a relatively reliable means to generate income, as well as a negative mechanism for coping with trauma where few alternatives exist. Therefore, women both contribute to the problems and are subsequently the greatest victims, suffering social ostracization, domestic violence, and other forms of gender-based violence.

Read more: Bor Women's Peacekeeping Team Tackle the Effects of Alcohol in the Community