Finding unity in cultural diversity
A cultural festival has been held in an effort to celebrate diversity and promote peace between groups of people living at the United Nations Protection of Civilians (POC) site in Bentiu after tensions developed between different communities over recent months.
The event, promoting the theme ‘One Culture, One Heritage, One Community, Together for Peace’, was organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan’s civil affairs team in the Unity region.
Speaking before a crowd of more than two thousand people, the Chairperson of the POC High Committee, John Gatchuk Thuok, said that the festival would help “bring lasting peace” in the area. He said that such initiatives encouraged the building of confidence and reconciliation between South Sudanese people.
The event, featuring performances by local musicians and drama groups, was enjoyed by a wide range of people from the local community, including women and youth representatives as well as tribal elders.
Seven-year-old Ran Reath Jany particularly enjoyed the festival.
“People came here because they are happy,” he said. “I will be happy if there is peace. You cannot mistreat your mother or kill your brother, this is bad.”
The POC site at Bentiu is the largest in South Sudan, hosting almost 115,000 internally displaced people. Given its size and the diversity of the population, there are significant challenges in providing security for those living inside.
However, residents said that they appreciated efforts by UN security personnel and community watch groups to maintain their safety.
“Despite many challenges that affect us here in the POC site, the level of crime has dramatically reduced due to the fact that UNMISS has put in a lot of effort by deploying additional security personnel on night patrol,” said John Thuok.