Nonviolent Peaceforce Worker Maria Duncan Flies into S Sudan

Christchurch woman Maria Duncan, 27, who works for Brussels-based organization Nonviolent Peaceforce, has flown into war-torn Bentiu, South Sudan to help protect some 25,000 refugees in a UN camp.

Almost all its occupants are displaced by a brutal internal conflict. “We monitor security incidents inside and outside the camp. We try and respond to fights, reports of domestic disputes, unaccompanied children, things like that,” Duncan says.

South Sudan gained independence in July 2011, and a bloody internal conflict has since gripped the country.

About 10,000 people have been killed and an estimated 1.5 million displaced, with the military conflict triggering a humanitarian crisis.

Duncan has never been one to turn a blind eye to conflict. “I remember when I was about 15 watching a documentary on Darfur and just bawling my eyes out. Even then I knew I couldn’t just sit at home and not be involved,” she says from the UN base outside Bentiu, a town of about 10,000.

Nonviolent Peaceforce staff don’t carry weapons, preferring to talk to local leaders to resolve conflicts.

“We employ the tactic that weapons invite weapons, and that there are other ways to solve problems. Association can be as bad as holding them themselves.”

Original article by Paul Easton, The Press, September 7, 2014.

Tags: Bentiu  Darfur  Maria Duncan  Nonviolent Peaceforce  South Sudan  The Press  

Cultural Champ Ken Gorbey Relishes Ninth Decade

Cultural Champ Ken Gorbey Relishes Ninth Decade

Arts alumnus Ken Gorbey tells Megan Fowlie, reporting for Auckland University’s Ingenio magazine, that he is treating his ninth decade as he would a museum exhibition: he’s determined to make it…