On-Site Reports from Our Peacekeepers

Way Station Handing-over Ceremony

Flight Lieutenant Indra Garner
Australian Defence Force Liaison Team

On the 20th September a four month project was realized and celebrated. Under the United Nation Mission in South Sudan ( UNMISS ) mandate for the protection of civilians, the Japanese contingent completed two new buildings contributing to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees ( UNHCR ) and ultimately to the most vulnerable and needy in South Sudan.

Tape Cutting at the Way Station Handing-over Ceremony(img)

Tape Cutting at the Way Station Handing-over Ceremony

IThe Japanese engineering contingent constructed two wooden living areas within the Juba Way Station which will provide shelter for up to 200 returnees at a time, specifically focused on young children and the vulnerable. The Way Station is designed to be a half way point for the thousands of South Sudanese returning to their native lands. Unfortunately, the Way Station is currently over capacity with many of these people found camping out under trees and in makeshift shelters outside. The opening of these two buildings will go a long way to easing the overcrowding problem that is currently being experienced.

Returnees moving into the Way Station(img)

Returnees moving into the Way Station

The UNMISS has introduced a new style of Peacekeeping Operations, in that it is strongly supporting nation-building as part of the protection of civilians. This kind of nation-building provides the security the people of South Sudan need whilst they organize their future plans without fear for their families and loved ones. As part of this change in the way the UNMISS is structured, the JSDF developed the Coordination Center ( CC ). This new organisation is better able to utilise and prioritise the resources of the JSDF Engineer Company given the multitude of requests from various agencies, United Nations, local government and Non Government Organisations ( NGO ) that are made to the JSDF . All agencies alike recognise the excellent work provided by the CC and the JSDF Engineer Company.

For the Japanese contingent, this is the first time that they have participated in this kind of nation-building in South Sudan. The contingent has completed several road rehabilitation projects within the Juba area, but until now they have not constructed buildings. It was a challenging but rewarding task for the engineers, working with materials that required considerable innovation to be used effectively. They managed to overcome many obstacles to create two sturdy and durable buildings to be used by the people of South Sudan returning to their country after decades of warfare.

The CC personnel worked extremely hard to ensure that the task met the UNHCR requirements and was achievable by the Japanese engineering contingent. Many hours of planning and meetings were conducted prior to the commencement of this task. The outstanding construction of the two buildings was an excellent example of the cooperative teamwork displayed by the CC , the JSDF Engineer Company and the UNHCR .

ADF Officers (right in the photo) Participate in CC
's Daily Meetings(img)

 ADF Officers (right in the photo) Participate in CC 's Daily Meetings

The Handing-over Ceremony encompassed the spirit and sentiment of the JSDF Engineer Company soldiers who worked on this project. Japanese Engineer Company Commander, Lt. Col Nobutaka Matsuki spoke eloquently of the hard work and of his soldiers in the construction of the two buildings and their unwavering dedication to get the job done for the people of South Sudan. Ms Fletcher representing the UNMISS and Ms Vukovic representing the UNHCR , both responded thanking the JSDF for the two buildings and for the compassion and assistance provided by both the JSDF and the people and Government of Japan. The speeches were followed by the cutting of the ribbon signalling the formal handover of the two buildings to UNHCR . After this, there was a cultural program put together for the enjoyment of guests and South Sudanese returnees alike. The soldiers from the JSDF Engineer Company put on a display of calligraphy, traditional drums and even a band drawn from soldiers within the company. The theme of the performance was about hopes and dreams for the future of the returnees and of South Sudan which they conveyed to the audience using the excellent calligraphy skills of Sergeant Major Hiroaki Muroi of the JSDF Engineer Company. After the formalities were officially ended, the JSDF soldiers were invited to present to the children of the returnees their gifts of hand-made traditional Japanese toys. The atmosphere was joyful and cheerful, and the children were delighted with the toys and with the soldiers of the JSDF .

Introducing Japanese Drum Performance in the Cultural Event(img)

Introducing Japanese Drum Performance in the Cultural Event

Nation-building within South Sudan is essential for this, the world's youngest country. This not only includes building dwellings, but constructing roads, improving communications and capacity-building. As part of the UNMISS , the JSDF Engineer contingent wishes to facilitate capacity-building efforts to help the South Sudanese to develop its own people as part of nation-building. They wish to share their knowledge of engineering with the local people to enable them to continue to repair, maintain and develop their roads once the UNMISS ends.

The Australian Government has recognised the outstanding work the JSDF is undertaking in South Sudan and recently deployed two Australian Defence Force Officers to assist the JSDF  CC . As part of its commitment to the UNMISS , it has also deployed a number of Australian defence personnel as Military Liaison Officers and Staff Officers. In keeping with its support for the UNMISS , the Australian aid organisation, AusAID , has also invested deeply in numerous humanitarian aid projects being run on its behalf by various NGO s delivering assistance to the people of South Sudan.

Colonel Namatame, the Head of CC, and Lt. Colonel Stanley(img)

Colonel Namatame, the Head of CC , and Lt. Colonel Stanley

Flight Lieutenant Garner Participates in the Cultural Event(img)

Flight Lieutenant Garner Participates in the Cultural Event

October 2012, Juba