Peace day celebrated across South Sudan with focus on resources

22 Sep 2012

Peace day celebrated across South Sudan with focus on resources

21 September 2012 - Natural resources must be used to benefit society rather than finance wars, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a message read out today in Bor, Jonglei State, to commemorate International Day of Peace.

"Armed conflicts attack the very pillars of sustainable development," Mr. Ban said in his message, read by UNMISS State Coordinator Ibrahima Ndiaye at Royal Junior Academy School. "National budgets should focus on building human capacity, not deadly weapons."

Under the theme "Sustainable Peace for a Sustainable Future", the Day focused on the use of natural resources to bankroll conflicts and how struggles over them could fuel violence.

Also speaking at the Bor event, Governor Kuol Manyang Juuk urged Jonglei people, who have endured recent inter-ethnic conflicts costing hundreds of lives, to work for peace among communities.

"We are the makers of our own situation," the governor said. "All of us, the child, the elder, everybody must work for peace."

Bor County Commissioner Agot Alier Leek praised UNMISS for its role in protecting civilians during recent conflicts and its efforts to restore peace in the state.

In the national capital Juba, a crowd gathered to celebrate the Day at Nyakuron Cultural Centre. Speakers included South Sudanese Vice-President Riek Machar and UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General Hilde F. Johnson.

At UNMISS, 16 students from Juba Day Secondary School gathered to participate in a global student video conference under the theme "From War to Peace – From Peace to Prosperity in South Sudan", organized by UN headquarters in New York.

Participant Winnie Apai noted that South Sudan had previously had no opportunity to unleash its natural resources due to war, stressing that it should now focus on using them properly.

"This country has many natural resources, but still people are suffering from hunger, disease and under-development," she said.

UNMISS also sponsored a theatre performance at Juba's Jebel Market, where hundreds of spectators watched a skit on peaceful settlement of disputes at the individual, tribal or intra-national levels.

In Malakal, Upper Nile State, the Inter-faith group (Muslims and Christians) organized an event at the town stadium with support from UNMISS as well as the non-governmental organizations Care and World Vision.

Minister of Gender, Social and Religious Affairs Jackline Juel Jago commended religious groups and the UN for supporting peacebuilding initiatives in the state. Inter-faith representatives stressed the importance of peace in the new nation.

In other locales across the country, International Day of Peace was marked by processions, speeches, readings of the Secretary-General's message, ethnic dancing, singing, dramas and football matches.