Mayen-Jur County: Where Nuer and Dinka cattle keepers enjoy peaceful coexistence
Mayen-Jur County, near Kuajok in the north-eastern part of the country, could potentially serve as a good example for conflict-ridden areas, where fighting is often fuelled by ethnic rivalries, elsewhere in the young nation. In Mayen-Jur, Nuer and Dinka cattle keepers are known to coexist and share grazing lands relatively peacefully.
A team serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan recently visited the hard-to-reach Mayen-Jur County. Civil Affairs officer Ajok Angok was pleasantly surprised by what she could observe in the area: Nuer and Dinka cattle keepers living peacefully together, sharing pastures and water for all their animals to enjoy.
While there has been a recent outbreak of inter-communal violence, with Nuer pastoralists from the nearby Northern Liech area having left Mayen-Jur for fear of revenge attacks, generally speaking members of the local Dinka and Nuer communities have been known to maintain peaceful coexistence. As evidence of the normally prevailing harmony, Nuer cattle keepers are expected to return soon, according to Sultan Kuol Gil, the Nuer chief in Mayen-Jur.
“This [Mayen-Jur] could be a model for the restive areas of South Sudan,” Ajok Angok suggests.
The swampy areas near the intra-state border are the dry season destination for thousands of cattle keepers and their families from the Warrap and Unity regions.
“It is important for UNMISS also to visit hard-to-reach areas of the country. Cooperation with the Bangladeshi peacekeepers allows the mission to build confidence with the communities, disseminate information on the mission mandate, and encourage people to accept peace and reconciliation,” Ms. Ajok added.
Ms. Ajok and other UNMISS civilians were accompanied by a number of Bangladeshi peacekeepers, who not only provided security for the Mission’s team but also offered medical treatment for both humans and their prized, four-legged assets.
A total of 945 bovines, sheep and goats received attentive, proactive and robust veterinary assistance. Approximately 100 of their owners were also treated by one of the Bangladeshi doctors.
The commander of the Bangladeshi battalion in Kuajok, Major Mahmoud, whose peacekeepers were able to negotiate the difficult road conditions and conduct the first visit this year to Mayen-Jur, expressed the readiness of Bangladeshi peacekeepers to provide assistance.
“Coming from Bangladesh, it is easy for us to sympathize with the people of South Sudan. We remember well the time in our country when it was difficult to get medicine and medical services in Bangladesh. Better times will be ahead in South Sudan as well,” Major Mahmoud affirmed.
In coordination with the Gogrial ministries of health and education, UNMISS also distributed medicines and books and bags for school-attending children. Salvatore Mayar Mayar, director-general of the Gogrial ministry of animal resources, accompanied the UN peacekeepers to Mayen-Jur, where he took the opportunity to impart his sagely advice on how to treat animals under the weather.