Border conference seeks to unite communities

17 Nov 2011

Border conference seeks to unite communities

16 November 2011 – As Misseriya nomads prepare to cross the Sudan/South Sudan border seeking grazing land during the dry season, a three-day conference began today in Abiemnon, Unity State, to boost relations among border communities.

Opening the event, State Deputy Governor William Daud Riak observed that Sudan had previously been one nation. But the new reality was that South Sudan was an independent country.

""South Sudan is no longer under the northern government," Governor Riak said. "(But) we are not (interested in) depriving our Misseriya brothers from coming. So you are allowed to come for grazing, but you have to respect the laws and orders and must respect the government of South Sudan."

With recent insecurity and rising tensions around border areas, Abiemnon County Commissioner Ajang Gedit Yor requested the non-governmental organization Concordis International to assist with the conference, which was also supported by UNMISS.

The activity aimed to build consensus on the desire for peaceful relations with nomads during the grazing season. It was up to communities to set the rules governing peaceful co-existence with their neighbors, said George Mabany, coordinator for Concordis International in Unity State.

"We have seen that since the country Sudan was divided into two, it is very hard for the citizens," he added. "We are going to make them aware that they ... should live as neighbors without fighting each other."

This conference is the first of its kind since South Sudan's independence in July. It will also be the first time Misseriya nomads cross an international border (from Sudan to South Sudan) in search of pasture and water for their animals.

"We are here today to come up with ideas on how to develop good relationships among ourselves and with our counter-parts in Sudan," said Commissioner Gedit. "We should have peace ... along the border with all without distinction."

The conference is expected to develop plans in building consensus among the communities of Abiemnom, Mayom, Rubkona, Panraing in Unity State, Twic in Warrap and the Abyei area.

Concordis International supported the conference with 11,941 South Sudanese pounds and working materials like computers. UNMISS Civil Affairs Division is providing air transport for participants and will also assist in carrying out conference decisions.

"We are in partnership with the county commissioner's office ... to facilitate the movement of participants from Rubkona, Guit and Panraing and back to their locations once the conference is over," said Civil Affairs Bentiu team leader Kwame Dwamena-Aboagye. "We are (also) going to work along with the communities by supporting implementation of the resolutions."