New police station in Kalibalek, Unity State, to boost rule of law

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Anyone thinking about committing a crime or two anywhere near the Kalibalek area of Bentiu would be wise to think again.

“The presence of this robust police station should speak loud and clear to the minds of people with the intention of breaking the law in and around Bentiu,” said Alptekin Aslantas, Police Coordinator at the UN peacekeeping mission’s field office with a not very menacing grin. “They should know that this station will be operating 24/7,” he added.

Powered by solar panels and with separate cells for male, female and young offenders, the new facilities look nothing like what came before them.

“It used to be a tiny tukul which nobody would ever imagine being a police station,” said Abraham Dak Ruathdel, a Human Rights Adviser to the Unity State government, recalling stealthier times and thanking the United Nations Mission in South Sudan in the process.

The construction of the Kalibalek police station, undertaken by Children Aid South Sudan, was funded by the peacekeeping mission as one of its Quick Impact Projects.

“Having a police station is very important to protect civilians and end impunity,” said Hiroko Hirahara, Head of the mission’s Field Office in Bentiu. “UNMISS will continue to provide the necessary support to ensure that the officers at this station are well trained to serve the needs of the community,” she added reassuringly.

The fact that the new premises have a special room to attend to the needs of survivors of gender-based violence is much appreciated by Unity State’s Minister of Gender and Social Welfare, Rose Nyabol Toch.

“It will encourage many women to report cases of sexual abuse,” she predicted as she spoke to those attending the ceremony of handing over the police station.

But for the establishment of the facilities to become a true success story, more is needed: the community’s trust and cooperation.

“Tackling crime is not the sole responsibility of the police. Residents of the area must interact and keep the police informed about what they know, as an early warning mechanism,” said Chief Superintendent Alpektin Aslantas sagely.

The icing on the cake on this festive day was delivered by the UN police officers and the Vietnamese peacekeepers based in Bentiu, as they handed over not only wall decorations but also medical supplies to prevent Covid-19.

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