Meet Cecilia Dunster
"I am deployed to the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and work in UN Police Headquarters as the team leader for Community Policing. I manage a team of 13 UN Police Officers from 12 different countries. My work involves ensuring that community policing services are delivered effectively in the UNMISS Protection of Civilian sites across the country. The other significant area of work is to support the Joint Integrated Police, a new South Sudanese Police Unit that is to be formed under the peace agreement. Our role is to provide advice and support, particularly in relation to developing and delivering training.
I have been shocked by the levels of sexual and gender based violence and child abuse. South Sudan is a patriarchal society where women (and girls) are bought for a dowry. Whilst women and children have rights and protection in law, in practice they are the most vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. I met a group of survivors of conflict related sexual violence. It was hard to listen to their experiences but I was struck by their courage; they wanted to tell their stories for the world to know and understand what has happened here. They want peace in their country.
I have definitely changed as a result of my deployment. I appreciate my life, my family and friends and my opportunities much more. My patience, resilience and sense of humour have been tested and I am much more tolerant. I love the diversity of working in a foreign culture with colleagues from all over the world. I have learnt that there are many ways of approaching challenges and to listen to my colleagues, partners and the community. I have worked at a strategic level way beyond anything I had experienced in the UK and the impact of my work will help bring peace to South Sudan."
Cecilia Dunster serves with the Thames Valley Police and is seconded through the UK Stabilisation Unit's pool of experts working in fragile states.
Photo credit: Ilya Medvedev "Cecilia Dunster in conversation with a Senior South Sudan Police Officer"