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Stories from the Field

Sudan Focus: United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) introduces Community Policing in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in Khartoum

Two decades of civil war displaced thousands of men, women and children from their homes especially from the South and Darfur regions of Sudan. Camps sprung up in different parts of North Sudan and Khartoum to accommodate these internally displaced persons. Once known as the “Carton Camp”, as most dwellings in the camp were made of paper cartons, Al Baraka IDP camp is home to over 50,000 men, women and children. While most of them are from Southern Sudan, a sizeable part of the population is from the West including Darfur. Away from their homes, lacking education, skills, in a land with different culture and religious thinking, it was difficult for the IDPs to eke out a living. They lived under constant fear of relocation, without any form of regular income which prompted some of them to resort to criminal activities ranging from petty thefts, boot legging, extortion and at times, to violent crimes. The police often raided the camp in search of criminals leading to allegations of arbitrary arrests and human rights violations. This led to a growing gap between the police and the IDP community.

Community Policing in Sudan is being practised through the Popular Police since 1992. However, there was no effective and long term policing strategy to deal with the typical security and law and order issues in IDP camps.

UN Police developed a model based on community policing with a view to empower the IDPs to play a role in enhancing their safety and security and join hands with the police in crime prevention and maintenance of law and order in the camps.

The model was approved by the Director of the Popular Police of the Government of Sudan (GoS), National Community Policing Coordinator GoS and the IDP community. UN Police developed a training curriculum based on the model and extensively trained the community and the local police in implementing the model. In a unique initiative, special training was imparted to over 200 women Police officers by UN Police officers in gender and child protection which was widely welcomed.

The model encourages building of mutual trust between the community and the police through joint implementation of various activities such as training of the community and the police to understand the concept of community policing and empowerment of the community to play an active role in ensuring their safety and security by working hand in hand with the police.

A group of women, velied, walking with a female police officer.

Lt. Col. Asmahan Alawaisheh from Jordan is the first female Chief of Staff in UNMIS Police. UN Photo

Community Safety Committees have been set up in the camps to oversee all safety and security issues. The model was successfully implemented in Al Baraka IDP camp with several activities jointly undertaken by the local police and the residents supported by the UNPOL and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). In another unique initiative, UN Police, supported by UNDP, set up Community Aid Posts in the camp to provide office space and essential infrastructure for the Committees to meet and function. Two have been established and are fully functional and the third one is under construction, all with the support from UNDP. A number of confidence and capacity building activities to promote safety and security in the camp have been carried out, ranging from drug awareness campaign for the youth, environment protection, cleanliness drives, traffic awareness campaigns and neighbourhood watch schemes. Drives have also been conducted on generating awareness about child abuse, human rights, HIV/AIDS and domestic violence. Recently, UN Police night patrols were successfully introduced in the camp with full support of the police and the community. Overwhelming support of the women and youth was a major cause of the Programme being owned and accepted by the community.

Initially the community aid post was staffed only by community safety monitors and United Nations Police. After discussions with the Director of the Family Protection Unit and the UN Police Commissioner, GoS Police decided to deploy UNPOL trained Police women in the camp which has given a new dimension and sustainability to the project.

The first ever UN Police co-location program in Al Baraka IDP camp took off in March of this year. UNPOL trained GoS female police officers are now co-locating with UN Police and the community in the camps. UN Police are working through the community centres to promote crime prevention strategies and to improve safety awareness in the camp, with special focus on women and children’s issues.

This model was approved by GoS Police and will be introduced through UN Police working in UNAMID at IDP camps in the Darfur region of the country. UNMIS Police has been requested to implement the model in four other camps in Khartoum with the support of the GoS police and UNDP.

As of today, 130 people have been trained in community policing in wad El Bashir IDP camp and 75 in El salaam IDP camp in Ombada County, Khartoum. One hundred women received family and child protection training and are actively involved in community safety activities.

One hundred popular police officers have attended family protection workshops and 105 people have been trained in El Salam villages and 60 people in Mayo of Jabel Aulia.

The successful implementation of the model has come with remarkable benefits to the IDP camps’ security such as dramatic improvement in relations between the police and the community. The number of raids has been reduced and there are now more visits by non-governmental organizations and donor representatives.

The Indonesian Formed Police Unit in the African Union/United Nations Hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID) builds trust to serve the people of Darfur

Providing security and protection to Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) for nearly one and half years, Indonesia’s Formed Police Units (FPUs) have been a very capable and integral part of UNAMID’s mandated-task of protecting people of Darfur.

The Indonesian Units, each consisting of 140 personnel, including two doctors and four nurses, first arrived in El-Fasher, North Darfur, in October 2008.

A group of civilians and UN Police officers standing in a dessert near a UNAMID vehichle.

Two members of UNAMID's Indonesian Formed Police Unit on a visiting IDP camps with the former UNAMID Police Commissioner. UN Photo

Before coming to Darfur, the peacekeepers received special physical training on high-risk operations and protection of people in immediate danger. The unit’s officers also passed an array of tests, including a psychological exam to determine their moral readiness and awareness for to what they would be faced with once deployed.

Accompanying the units’ journey to Darfur were 17 master patrol vehicles, six anti-mine armoured cars, eight armoured personnel carriers (APCs), one recovery truck, three water trucks, and three ambulances.

When they first went into an IDP camp they were not welcomed. “During our first patrols in the camps, the IDPs threw stones at us. They were afraid, not knowing that we came to protect them,” Indonesian Captain Ahmed Maktal recalled with a smile during a recent informal gathering with staff.

Solid trust would be earned. In one case, it was the swift action by the FPU to come to the aid of a pregnant woman who required medical care. An Indonesian police ambulance arrived in minutes. “With the help of our nurse, we took her to the hospital, but the Government military stopped us at the gate. We were not allowed to go out of the camp before 6:30 in the morning… we told them it was urgent… we had to go through intensive talks with them before they allowed us to move on to the hospital,“ said the Captain.

The Indonesian FPU provides daily protection to Abu Shok, Al-Salam and Zam Zam, three large IDP camps near El Fasher. The unit also escorts convoys of UN personnel and police advisers.

An agreement of cooperation was recently concluded between UNAMID and Sudanese military forces to allow UN ambulances and patrols to carry IDPs in need of urgent care, without delay, to hospitals.

The Indonesian FPU also organizes humanitarian assistance. They have organized donations of gifts to the IDP Camp in the area of Zamzam, Abu Shouk and Al Salam. They also manage sporting activities and initiated a 10 kilometer “Fun Run” in August 2009 during their Independence Day celebrations. The Indonesian UN Police contingent continues to build trust in communities it serves and is widely respected and appreciated by their colleagues working for UNAMID.

UN Police work in the Abyei Region of Sudan Synergy at Work

The violent May 2008 clashes left hundreds dead and injured in Abyei. The entire civilian population fled the town. There was hardly a Tukul left standing after the large scale violence and arson. Signing of the Abyei Area Roadmap in June 2008 laid the foundation of restoration of law and order in the troubled area and gave a glimmer hope that the Inernally Displaced Persons (IDPs) could return to their homes and hearths.

Security arrangements in the Abyei Road Map Agreement (ARA) of 8 June 2008 stipulated the deployment of a police service after consultations between the Government of National Unity (GoNU) and Government of South Sudan’s (GoSS) Ministers of Interior. As a result of discussions facilitated by the UNMIS Police Commissioner, the GoNU Ministry of Interior issued Decree No. 228 of 24 July 2008 establishing the Abyei Area Police (AAP). This unique experiment envisaged raising a new Police service for the Abyei Roadmap area, comprising of equal representation from the GoS police and the Southern Sudan Police Service (SSPS).

After considerable efforts the first batch of 80 officers, 40 from the North and 40 from the South, created the Abyei Area Police (AAP) and were deployed in Abyei in August 2008. Today the number has increased to 356.UNMIS supported the initial deployment with food, water, shelter and medicine. Keeping in view the needs of the nascent service, UNPOL compiled a Rapid Deployment Package outlining essential operational, training and logistics needs of the AAP. The Package was approved by the GoS police and SSPS and presented to donors through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The unique synergy which developed over the next few months between UNPOL, UNDP and donors (including the Governments of German and the Netherlands transformed the AAP into a functional unit, responsible for maintaining law and order in the Abyei roadmap area. UNPOL engineers provided technical assistance, training and skilled human resources, UNDP provided sustained funding, bilateral donors pledging timely support and UNMIS extending infrastructural support.

The AAP was given communication equipment, police stations along the Miseriya migration route and seven trucks for patrolling. The Abyei and Agok police stations were renovated and a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Sudanese military and the AAP commanders defining areas of jurisdiction and rules of engagement. This coordinated effort has helped facilitate the return of the IDPs to Abyei, and the resumption of some commercial activities in the roadmap area.