Chiefs urge government to protect disarmed civilians in Jonglei

4 May 2012

Chiefs urge government to protect disarmed civilians in Jonglei

3 May 2012 - As disarmament continues in Jonglei, traditional chiefs at a peace conference in the capital Bor have called on state and national governments to protect unarmed civilians.

Addressing the state's "All Community Peace Conference" today, the chiefs of Greater Akobo and Greater Bor stressed that some people were still carrying weapons.

"The government must assure us that they will protect disarmed civilians from those who are still armed and have bad intentions," said Greater Bor Chief Mayom Malak.

Greater Akobo Chief Galuak Thao said they would rearm their people for protection if the government gave no assurance that it would carry out that function.

"If something is to happen, (and) ... the government fails to do so (provide protection), then we will have no choice but to rearm them." said Chief Galuak Thao.

So far more than 10,000 arms have been collected from civilians in Jonglei State in the disarmament exercise.

Focusing also on major causes of inter-tribal conflict in the state, conference participants cited insecurity, abduction of women and children, cattle raiding, lack of basic services like water, schools and hospitals, poor infrastructure and sharing of natural resources.

Asked about their expectations from the four-day conference, which began on 1 May, some Bor residents said they expected communities to put aside their differences and come up with one voice of peace in the state.

"We have been talking about peace for a long time, but things are still the same," said resident Philip Ayuen Alier. "I expect that this peace conference will come up with suitable recommendations on all the issues ... and the government should make sure that they are implemented."

Trader John Ajang said, "We are tired of fighting and killing each other. We want peace; we need to develop our state. Let this conference put an end to all these conflicts and at the same time the disarmament exercise should continue."

The four-day peace conference is expected to come up with recommendations and resolutions to be implemented as well as follow up and the way forward to end inter-tribal conflict in Jonglei State.