In South Sudan’s Greater Kajo-Keji, mangoes all around but only birds and animals eat them

12 Apr 2018

In South Sudan’s Greater Kajo-Keji, mangoes all around but only birds and animals eat them

Juma Ochi

Birds and stray animals have been devouring mangoes left behind by fleeing residents of South Sudan’s Greater Kajokeji, a joint UNMISS-IGAD mission to the area was told this week.

“Kajo-Keji is covered with mango trees almost in every corner of the streets, and even a poor person can survive because there are fruits that nobody can prevent anyone from eating,” said Kajo-Keji County Commissioner, Luka Yombek David, emphasizing the abundance of possibilities for the South Sudanese people, presented by the country’s fertile land.

“Every year in April, there are plenty of mango fruits that help people as they cultivate their land,” said Commissioner Luka Yombek. “Unfortunately, due to the crisis, Kajo-Keji people fled the area, leaving mangos behind for birds and animals,” he added, emphasizing the effects of the political crisis in South Sudan.

According to the local authorities, due to the current crisis, almost all the people fled the area. Some ended up settling along the Ugandan border, while others are seeking shelter at designated refugee camps.

The five-day integrated mission by UNMISS – the United Nation Mission in South Sudan – and the Intergovernmental Authority (IGAD)’s ceasefire-monitoring body, took place between 5 and 9 April 2018 to assess the security and humanitarian situation on the ground. The mission also aimed to boost confidence among the local population through the peacekeeping mission’s presence.

Mustafa Semuddu, head of the ceasefire monitoring team, explained the main task of the Monitoring and Verification Team as a neutral body to local authorities, which is to monitor compliance by the Parties and armed groups – either under their control or invited to support them – to the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, signed in January 2014.

Located in 12 of the most conflict affected areas of South Sudan, the monitoring and verification teams patrol their areas of responsibility and gather information on potential violations of the Agreement, which can include military fighting, movements of forces, blockage of aid routes, forced recruitment of children into war and attacks on civilians, as well as inciting propaganda, and other activities.

Lt. Col. John Kamilo, Commander of Greater Kajo-Keji, said that the security situation in all areas under his control, including Kansuk, Kajo-Keji, Jale, Jalimo, Pamori, Bori, and Liwolo is stable. “There is no place that is forbidden for UNMISS not to go to. They can go to all the places under my control and get the information they need,” said commander Kamilo, committing to protect civilians.

“We are not happy because our people are suffering in refugee camps in Uganda. Life is very difficult,” said Elizabeth Kiden, a local resident. “Some are willing to come back but when you come, you find your house is burned down,” she said.

Local authorities expressed their strong wishes that the people of Kajo-Keji would return home from the temporary camps where they are hosted now, so that they can restart their farming activities.