Focus on Fellows
Hakim Monykuer Awuok
Deputy Director of Resolutions, Ministry of Cabinet Affairs, Republic of South Sudan
South Sudan Fellow - 2016
One and a half million refugees have fled South Sudan due to the ongoing conflict; another 1.85 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) still reside within the country (Source: UNHCR). The UNITAR Hiroshima Office asked Mr. Hakim Monykuer Awuok, Deputy Director of Resolutions at the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs, South Sudan, for his thoughts on the situation. Mr. Awuok participated in the UNITAR South Sudan Fellowship Programme’s 2016 Cycle, and the project he developed through the programme aims to have a positive impact on IDPs in Juba, South Sudan’s capital.
Mr. Awuok visited Hiroshima, Japan, to participate in the second workshop of the UNITAR South Sudan Fellowship Programme, where he developed his project, titled “Entrepreneurial Skills Training Program for the Internally Displaced Women in Juba.” Although displaced girls and women may have been denied formal education, providing them with entrepreneurial skills training will give them tools to gain financial independence and security. The Hiroshima Office wishes Mr. Awuok luck as he seeks to implement his project.
What are the problems caused by displacement? Did any of your friends or relatives have to move to another place? How was their life affected by displacement?
Some of my relatives are currently in two different countries, in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya and in Ayillo II Camp in Uganda. So are many of my friends. Their lives are in disarray and will never return to how they were before the conflict. In both refugee and IDP camps, people are subjected a harsh way of life and exposed to many diseases. I visited Kakuma Refugee Camp, and the way they live there is really unbearable.
How do you think displacement has affected education in South Sudan?
The mass displacement of South Sudanese to refugee and IDP camps has had significant negative effects on education in South Sudan in a number of ways. There has been a large drop in enrolment rates, and many schools and infrastructure have been destroyed in the conflict. Many teachers and school staff have left the country, which has left numerous schools deserted, while other schools are staffed with less-qualified teachers.
Do you have any comments on how girls’ education has been affected by displacement?
I think girls’ education was a big issue even before the current civil war. In most South Sudanese communities, girls are often seen as source of wealth rather than people who deserve education.
Mass displacement has affected girls’ education in several ways. Some girls need to take care of their siblings and are never given the chance to go to school, or girls in refugee camps are forced to marry so that their parents or relatives can receive money, which also denies the girls’ education. In camps, girls are sometimes at risk of rape on their way to school, while others are forced into prostitution as means to earn money to support their families and may contract sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV/AIDS.