Following months of conflict, UNMISS helps communities consolidate a fragile peace in Tambura
TAMBURA – Protracted conflict has displaced tens of thousands, killed many and led to the destruction of homes, public infrastructure and farms in greater Tambura, Western Equatoria, this year.
Following the deployment of peacekeepers from the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) to a temporary base here and consolidated efforts by local authorities, a fragile peace has finally been established and communities here can slowly begin to recover and rebuild their lives.
The UN Peacekeeping mission has also been consistently engaging with interlocuters at the grassroots to build renewed calm and stability from the ground up.
As such, the ongoing 16 Days of Activism provided UNMISS a platform to convene and connect with local communities through a series of trust-building activities which included sports and roundtable discussions on eliminating all forms of violence against women.
Last weekend, a volleyball match to enhance peace and unity was organized with a single focus: To bring communities together in an event that fosters good will. The two teams—UNMISS peacekeepers from Ethiopia and the local team—demonstrated both camaraderie and skill.
“It is a joy to finally witness a happy day here in Tambura,” said Paul Badista Zinaro, Acting Paramount Chief of the county. “Our people have suffered a lot in the past few months and we are really grateful for this moment in the sun. Many of us didn’t think we could make it through the dark times,” he revealed.
More sports activities are planned to bring young people together and build social cohesion in upcoming months.
In a separate event, Margret Joshua, a Gender Affairs Officer with UNMISS, led a spirited discussion on sexual violence in conflict and how it impacts women with community members. “We are here to support you in building peace. This is just the beginning; we will make sure we are with the people of Tambura every step of the way as you begin to reshape your lives,” she stated. The forum was jointly facilitated by the mission’s Gender Unit and Human Rights Division and more than 60 women and men participated.
Mary Simaya, a participant, was struck by the discussions. “This is very a very important eye opener for the Tambura community because we have learnt a lot about women’s rights, the need to protect women and girls from any form of violence and also to mitigate any dispute or conflict that arises amongst us without resorting to arms,” she said. “If all of us hold the lessons we have learned here today close to our heart, I am sure we can make Tambura into a peaceful paradise,” she added.
More than 100 UNMISS peacekeepers are currently providing protection to some 15,000 newly displaced persons in Tambura.