Healing, hope, reconciliation triple focus of two-week sensitization drive in Western Equatoria

UNMISS protection of civilians intercommunal clashes peacekeepers South Sudan peacekeeping tambura reconciliation peace intercommunal clashes

UNMISS and local authorities in Western Equatoria have begun a two-week sensitization drive aimed at building trust and confidence among those who have been affected by violence in the greater Tambura region for the past several months. Photo by Martin Siba/UNMISS

6 Dec 2021

Healing, hope, reconciliation triple focus of two-week sensitization drive in Western Equatoria

Martin Siba

YAMBIO - 2021 has been a difficult year for the people of Western Equatoria, South Sudan.

A relatively peaceful and secure environment was destroyed by a massive surge of violence and armed attacks in the greater Tambura region which lasted for months. People were killed, properties destroyed and tens of thousands, displaced.

This devastating turn of circumstances naturally affected the entire state.

Now, as a fragile peace begins to once again reassert itself, there is no greater need than for communities to heal together.

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has therefore launched a two-week mobile campaign with a single focus: To bring displaced communities who are still sheltering in various ad-hoc locations in and around Tambura, including outside the UN Peacekeeping mission’s temporary base together in the spirit of peaceful coexistence.

Local authorities, civil society and the United Nations have joined forces and are together travelling to eight key locations where displaced persons have congregated and are reaching out with messages of peace, hope and harmony to the violence affected.

The campaign started in Ikpero, a suburb of Yambio.

“Our main objective is to convene, connect and build trust among local authorities and communities, with a special emphasis on families that have been affected by months of conflict in Tambura,” revealed Emmanuel Dukundane, a Civil Affairs Officer with the UN Peacekeeping mission. “UNMISS, through its temporary base in Tambura, has managed to restore a semblance of calm and stability but people need support, even emotionally, because they have lost almost everything,” he added. “Such outreach at the grassroots will, we hope, bolster peace gains and reduce the possibility of further conflict.”

For his part, Hussein Enoka, County Commissioner of Yambio, cautioned people against hate speech and intercommunal violence and pledged his readiness to preach the message of peace across the state.

“If we are to build a prosperous future and help the conflict-affected rebuild their lives, we must become ambassadors of durable peace ourselves. We are all in this together and we must unite,” he stated passionately.

 “We are happy to see that our local authorities are committed to restoring peaceful coexistence across Western Equatoria. We need our government’s support if we are to come together and lead lives free of guns,” said Justin Kumba, a resident of Ikpero.

For Edward Ermenio Mombasa, a community leader, the process of recovery starts from within the communities themselves. “I call on all my fellow community and traditional leaders to bring people together, support them and help them fortify their emotional reserves so that our brothers and sisters who have been severely impacted in Tambura can slowly but surely rebuild their lives. They are not alone. We are with them,” he stated powerfully.