Community leaders learn to resolve conflicts amid new influx of displaced persons in Malakal
UPPER NILE- With recent fighting in the state having caused an influx of more than 15,000 persons seeking shelter at the Malakal Protection of Civilians site, learning techniques to prevent, mitigate and resolve conflicts becomes even more important.
In this context, and also having detected increased alcohol consumption and more cases of domestic violence taking place at the site, the Civil Affairs Division of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) decided to take action. They recently organized a two-day workshop on conflict management and reconciliation, targeting a total of 60 community leaders and representatives of women and youth currently staying at the site, currently home to approximately 53,000 people.
‘’It is a mix of people from different communities staying here, and conflicts sometimes occur. The arrival of large numbers of new people, combined with recent concerns about the security situation in parts of the state, can add to tensions,” said John Amum Othow, Acting Chairperson of the Protection, Community and Coordination Committee established by the internally displaced.
“We are aware that managing conflicts is crucial, but we are not always familiar with the tools needed to make it happen,” he added.
Women, children, and elderly are among the most vulnerable groups, and even more so when tensions lead to conflicts, be they violent or not, within the site.
“As community leaders and youth, we need to work harder than before to curb the rise of alcohol consumption and the problems it leads to. Let us do more to maintain good relations in the protection side and, in that way, protect women and children better,” said Josphine James Lah, a women’s representative.
Forum participants agreed take action against the harmful use of social media to spread disinformation and hatred, as irresponsible posts on the internet are seen as a major factor contributing to an increased polarization between different groups staying in the protection site.
Community leaders, youth and women can count on the peacekeeping mission’s technical support to achieve their goal of establishing a more harmonious living environment for all.
“It is our core mission to advocate for and strengthen conflict management skills and social cohesion by means of capacity building. We must provide the tools necessary to consolidate and improve their already existing community dialogue strategy’’ said Natheir Alawamleh, a Civil Affairs Officer serving with UNMISS.