Greater Tali communities call for peace, forgiveness at UNMISS-supported conference

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Former foes in greater Tindilo vow to peacefully coexist, thanks to a peace dialogue facilitated by UNMISS and partners. Photo by James Sokiri/UNMISS

8 May 2024

Greater Tali communities call for peace, forgiveness at UNMISS-supported conference

James Sokiri

CENTRAL EQUATORIA - Located some 60 miles from Terekeka town, Tindilo is awash with challenges. These range from poor roads, dilapidated medical facilities, absence of telephone networks, intercommunal feuds, and food and water shortages.

These conditions are exacerbated by mistrust among communities and high illiteracy rates which deprive the population of taking advantage of new and vital information that could build social cohesion.

But recently the three communities of Tali, Tindilo, and Mundari Mula decided to leave past hurts behind and start a new chapter of peace to foster economic growth. This undertaking received support through a peace conference organized and funded by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), through its Civil Affairs Division and partners.

A wide spectrum of some 300 stakeholders attended the conference, including state and county authorities, religious and traditional leaders, intellectuals as well as youth and women’s representatives.

Assunta Paul, Chair of Terekeka County Women’s Association, praised this initiative to foster communal harmony among greater Tali residents.

“There is much to be said about leaving aside what divides us and instead having these productive dialogues that benefit everybody,” she said.

Ending repeated cycles of intercommunal violence was a common concern.

“The culture of revenge killings, destruction of properties and farms must end,” said Angelo Maring, Chair of the Tali Community, emphatically.

For John Kenyi Kila, a pastor, the need of the hour are genuine voices for peace.

“Forgiveness requires forgetting the past and embracing that we are united in our diversity to forge a sense of national identity,” Mr. Kila said.

For his part, UNMISS Civil Affairs Team Leader, Victor Namah Fasama, reiterating the UN Peacekeeping mission’s ongoing commitment to supporting communities in arriving at dialogue-based solutions to outstanding disputes.

“Our presence here demonstrates that we are your steadfast partners as you seek to find sustainable and locally driven solutions towards forging a brighter future,” he averred.

Among issues discussed, a clear call was for an increase in services for residents of greater Tali.

Roda Kiden, a 28-year-old nurse at a health facility in Tindilo, narrated how a woman and her unborn child recently died of complications during childbirth because the combination of bad roads, patchy phone networks and the rising cost of fuel made it impossible to coordinate timely referrals.

Mari Doki, a resident of Mundari Bura, spoke about how only two boreholes make it impossible for greater Tindilo populations to have access to plentiful and clean water.

A lack of essential food and non-food items were also cited by many attending the conference.

Joseph More Bendere, Chair of the Tindilo United Youth Association summed it up succinctly.

“Insecurity, lack of food and medicine as well as rising cost of living are factors that push young people to leave greater Tindilo and move to Juba to eke out a living. It’s also what drives violence. We need more services and more opportunities for everybody,” he averred.

George Wani, County Commissioner of Terekeka, rounded up the discussions aptly.

“Peace is critical because without it we cannot have stability, better health facilities and better education for our communities. Therefore, I urge everybody present to uphold the pledge for intercommunal harmony they have committed to at this dialogue.”