Feuding communities in Tonj commit to reconciliation, ending protracted conflict at UNMISS peace dialogue

unmiss protection of civilians intercommunal clashes armed attacks tonj warrap women grassroots peace dialogue reconciliation

At an UNMISS peace dialogue, communities in Tonj pledge to reconcile and stop ongoing intercommunal clashes that have left many killed, injured or displaced. Photo by Peter Riing Ariik Kuol/UNMISS.

29 Oct 2021

Feuding communities in Tonj commit to reconciliation, ending protracted conflict at UNMISS peace dialogue

Peter Ring Ariik Kuol

“I have been dismayed and heartbroken seeing the catastrophic level of damage to our people and properties due to senseless conflict among communities who were once like family,” said Mawan Dhur Riak, a community leader in Tonj, Warrap.

Mr. Riak was speaking at a three-day peace dialogue organized in Kuajok by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), bringing together traditional leaders, cattle keepers, youth and women.

This forum is part of the UN Peacekeeping mission’s ongoing efforts to reduce tensions and restore stability following recurrent conflict between armed groups in Warrap, particularly in Tonj East and Tonj North.

Ongoing clashes here have caused huge harm to communities.

Innocent civilians have been injured and killed, properties destroyed, while thousands of families have been displaced. In the most recent clashes between armed groups in Kacuat, Romich and Marial Lou, some 35 people were reportedly killed, 80 injured and hundreds displaced from their homes.

For his part, another community leader, Monycirin Ajiech Kongkuch appealed to the state and national governments to urgently deploy security forces to hotspots in Tonj North and Tonj East.

Free and frank discussions at the conference resulted in participants signing a 21-point communique to end the suffering. Key needs identified to establish peace were government support for community leaders to provide early warnings about potential flare-ups; voluntary disarmament exercises to stem the proliferation of small arms; plus, special protection for women and children.

“As women, we are the ones left mourning the dead—our sons, husbands, brothers,” stated Rose Anyang, a women’s representative, eloquently. “Currently, we are unable to farm our lands because we are afraid of being subjected to sexual assaults or worse. We need to be protected, not just for ourselves but for the sake of our children,” she added.

The forum concluded with a traditional peace rite.