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Watch now: Bakhita's and Nyanuer's Insights from South Sudan

Date: November 22, 2023
Bakhita Stephen Guet, National Protection Officer in Bentiu, South Sudan.

Working for Protection: UN, NP, and Communities Themselves

"As much as we need the presence of the uniformed men and women, we also need the civil society organizations to build the capacity of the local community so that this community will be sustainable," Bakhita shared.

On 23-24 October 2023, Bakhita Stephen Guet, National Protection Officer, and Tiffany Easthom, Executive Director, advocated for more recognition and investment in civilian protection at the UN Conference in Kigali, Rwanda.

Listen and watch Bakhita's remarks now (or read them here):

Bakhita shared her own experiences living and working in a place for people who have had to flee their homes—a displacement camp in Bentiu, South Sudan. She talked about working with the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan. However, she also called for adjustments to the way the UN approaches peacekeeping, urging the expert audience to see the knowledge, skills, and power in local communities.

In making these changes and investing in communities themselves, she believes communities will grow stronger and safer. Bakhita believes it's important to enhance the abilities of the community to protect themselves. This, she says, is key for making lasting and good peace.

And Bakhita has good reason to believe this: she sees it in action in Bentiu. "One of the great things that NP is doing on the ground is having local Community Protection Teams," she shared.

Keeping Each Other Safe, from Bentiu to Juba, South Sudan

Across the country, in another displacement camp, Nyanuer Wiyual has also seen the positive impacts of communities learning and sharing ways to protect themselves and each other—as well as having ongoing communication with the UN about safety and security.

Nyanuer, a resident of Juba IDP Camp, recorded a video testimony that was shared at the conference alongside Bakhita's remarks. She shared the safety concerns that her community faces, but also the ways that she and her neighbors have worked together to stay safe.

"We need the link between our local leaders and the community," Nyanuer shared.

Hear the insights from Nyanuer and others from Juba IDP Camp now:

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This UN preparatory conference was held in preparation for the upcoming UN Ministerial meeting on peacekeeping, taking place on 5-6 December 2023. The meeting brought together 200+ experts on peacekeeping, largely from the UN Secretariat and Member State countries who fund and/or contribute peacekeepers in UN peace operations. Bakhita and Tiffany participated in a session focused on the protection of civilians and strategic communication. NP was one of three civil society groups to participate, thanks to meeting co-host, the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

You can protect civilians who are living in or fleeing violent conflict. Your contribution will transform the world's response to conflict.