UN official listens to views of South Sudanese Australians

Our six week program for the South Sudanese community, which focused on exploring project development and advocacy strategies for South Sudan, culminated on Saturday with a very special visitor: the Deputy Head of the UN Mission in South Sudan, Mr Toby Lanzer. The high-ranking UN official was in Australia to meet with Australian Government and opposition officials to lobby for further funding to support the development of South Sudan. While in Melbourne, he chose to meet with the South Sudanese diaspora to hear their views on the work the UN and the South Sudanese Government are undertaking and how the diaspora could be engaged in the process.

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 Workshop participants engage with Toby Lanzer, Deputy Head of the UN Mission in South Sudan.
(Left to right: Okwom Nyikang Ajobwong, Aguer Ngor Athian, Barnabas Bol Kuot, Ambrose Mareng and Toby Lanzer)

Our workshop participants – more than 30 people representing organisations or exploring ideas around supporting the development of South Sudan – were keen to share their views. The discussion included how the UN was currently able to reach remote areas of South Sudan and how the diaspora could be more effectively supported to bring their capacity and skills to the important re-development work on the ground.

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South Sudanese community members listening to Deputy Head of the UN Mission in South Sudan, Mr Toby Lanzer.

I think we at the UN need to listen five times more than we speak,” said Mr Lanzer to participants. “We are guests in South Sudan… we need to listen and not judge.” Mr Lanzer is keen to continue the conversations in order to better understand how the Australian South Sudanese diaspora could be better engaged in the development process.

Following the conclusion of our workshops, almost one hundred members of the South Sudanese community attended an open forum in Footscray with Mr Lanzer on development in South Sudan.

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HCH director Denise Cauchi at an activity during the workshop

Last Saturday was the final day of a six week program funded by AusAID and Oxfam Australia, in partnership with the South Sudanese Community of Australia. More than 30 women and men were enrolled in the program which included units in project management, the humanitarian sector in South Sudan, funding and fundraising, and advocacy strategies. The workshop series is planned to be rolled out in Sydney in late April/May.

 

For more information on the UN Mission in South Sudan see: http://unmis.unmissions.org/