Resolutions to curb cattle-related tensions agreed on at Rumbek forum organized by UNMISS

unmiss south sudan lakes state rumbek cattle intercommunal conflicts forum resolutions agreement

Participants from three counties in Lakes State sign a document with agreed-on resolutions to reduce intercommunal tensions. Photo: James Mawien Manyuol/UNMISS

27 Sep 2022

Resolutions to curb cattle-related tensions agreed on at Rumbek forum organized by UNMISS

James Mawien Manyuol/Filip Andersson

LAKES- Cattle thefts and the revenge attacks often carried out by the raided community claim the lives of many people in different parts of South Sudan. Sometimes such skirmishes escalate, turning conflicts bigger and more lethal, threatening the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement in the country.

To build trust and reduce tensions among communities in the counties of Rumbek Center, Cueibet and Rumbek North, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) with partners recently held a two-day forum with relevant stakeholders.

“Do not allow yourselves to become known as thieves or killers. One single thief can wreak havoc within a whole community. Do not socialize with these people, and report any thefts you become aware of, because only then will real peace prevail,” said Isaac Mayiek Nooi, Commissioner of Rumbek North County, as he requested the state government to deploy troops in known hotspots to prevent both conflicts and unauthorized movement of cattle.

Some 80 forum participants, including local authorities, youth, chiefs, women and students discussed how conflict affects schools and education, the role of chiefs and youth in preventing clashes and how to resolve existing differences in amicable ways.

They also agreed on a number of resolutions, including moving all cattle camps to the highlands, chiefs to stay in their own camps, reporting incidents of stolen cattle to the authorities and the formation of joint peace committees, with members to represent all three counties.

“The government will support the implementation of these resolutions one hundred per cent, including with training of the peace committees so that they know how to coordinate their activities,” pledged Chol Kuotwel, Lakes’ State Minster of Local Government and Law Enforcement Agencies.

Khalif Farah, a Civil Affairs Officer serving with UNMISS, reiterated the peacekeeping mission’s continued support of peace initiatives and conflict resolution. He also stressed that progress has been made.

“One year ago, there was a lot of violence and killings, but now two or more months can pass without anyone being killed. When I came to Rumbek in 2020, almost everyone used to carry a gun, but that is no longer the case,” he said.

Those in attendance agreed on the importance of women becoming more involved in community affairs and peacebuilding, to encourage intercommunal marriages and to prioritize education.

The forum was organized by the state Ministry of Local Government and Law Enforcement Agencies in collaboration with UNMISS, Peace Canal and the Disabled Association for Rehabilitation and Development (DARD), two national non-profit organizations operating in Lakes State.