Civilian disarmament peaceful in Wanding

11 Apr 2012

Civilian disarmament peaceful in Wanding

5 April 2012 - Government-led civilian disarmament had been proceeding peacefully since it began on 1 April in Wanding payam (district), Upper Nile State, local officials told an UNMISS and state government assessment mission today.

"Many people ran away ... They thought the process would be the same as the ones that were carried out in the previous years," Chief Peter Diu Yak said. "However, many are coming back now, having heard no force is being used to disarm (them)."

He urged other chiefs in South Sudan to cooperate with the disarmament team, so that peace would be attained and people could cultivate without any fear of gunmen attacking them in their fields.

The assessment team, which was on a security patrol to Nassir County, found that calm had also returned to the area, following a 9 March cattle raid by Murle invaders.

Local authorities were concerned that youths would retaliate, said Sudan People's Liberation Army platoon commander Captain Abraham Kuol. It was unfortunate that guns, rather than rule of law, were being used to settle local disputes, he added.

Stephen Duany, the payam administrator, said some youths had been dissuaded from participating in disarmament by a prophet in the area, who promised they could get back their raided cattle.

But he noted that some youths were now cooperating and handing over their arms. "We are happy that the activity is being carried out peacefully. We have no doubt the intention is good."

While disarmament was going well, the area still faced severe challenges, Mr. Duany said.

Humanitarian agencies had neglected it and Save the Children was the only agency supporting a local nutrition centre, he said. "There is only one local community based organization that runs a nutrition centre supported by Save the Children. There is no health facility or school for children."

The payam administrator called on other non-governmental organizations to come and help develop the area.