Juba Protection Of Civilians Site III
In December 2013, South Sudan, a country that had achieved independence after decades of civil war with neighboring Sudan, entered another war – with itself this time. A political feud among the country’s leaders quickly established itself along tribal lines. With ethnic motivations at play, families and whole villages were forced from their homes. For those who could not flee to neighboring countries, the only option were the camps set up by the United Nations for the Protection of Civilians (PoC). In spring 2014, Forest Whitaker visited a PoC camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Juba. At the time, 14,000 people lived in this camp, dubbed Juba PoC 3. Whitaker noticed the look of despair among the children and youth and their evident trauma, with physical displacement creating an inner displacement. Their sense of self-identity was fragile. Worse, they were left idle, which implied two dangers. The first was the prospect of heightened violence in the daily life of the camp, especially among people from different tribes. This was a short-term risk that could amplify the second danger, which represented a more long-term risk: namely, the feelings of disenfranchisement and revenge many of the young people nurtured. These feelings had their roots in the conflict: the loss of home, the loss of loved ones, the loss of socio-economic normalcy, and, as camp residents, the loss of social status.
An intervention was required, which would combine entertaining occupations designed to stimulate the interest of children and young people with educational activities, designed to raise their awareness about values, attitudes and behaviors conducive to the practice of respect and non-violence. Such an intervention would be beneficial for both their daily life within the camp, and for the future, to prepare for national reconciliation processes. These objectives led to two of our main programs, “Peace Through Sports” and “Cinema for Peace.” The cornerstone of these initiatives is to mobilize entertaining activities as part of psycho-social support and entry points for interventions in peace education and trauma healing. The programs have reached thousands of children, youth and adults each year (4,000 of them are registered in one of our 115 teams). They contribute to psycho-social support and trauma healing – for the participants and the residents at large.
In 2016, after a surge of new arrivals at the camp brought the population to 25,000, residents fought to keep the sports playground. They said they would rather be overcrowded than lose their sports field. This heartfelt reaction revealed that responding to the educational and recreational needs of youth was indeed important. It eases the tensions that arise in such settings and helps maintain a connection to a more hopeful future.
Key numbers to understand our impact at the Protection of Civilians Site:
IDPs supported at the Protection of Civilians site in Juba
soccer teams created and supported by WPDI to teach peace through sports
youths trained and certifed by the South Sudan Football Association as coaches and referees
people attended WPDI-sponsored football and sporting events