As tensions continue in Tambura, UNMISS and authorities conduct assessment mission

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As tensions rise in Tambura, Western Equatoria, a joint assessment mission by government partners and UNMISS hears community concerns. Photo by Denis Louro/UNMISS.

5 Apr 2024

As tensions continue in Tambura, UNMISS and authorities conduct assessment mission

Denis Louro

WESTERN EQUATORIA – “We need lasting peace in our villages,” said Suzanna Joseph wistfully.

Suzanna, a mother of five children, was speaking to peacekeepers from the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and local authorities in Tambura who were on a joint assessment mission, given rising tensions in the area in the past few weeks.

She is also one of the internally displaced people who sought refuge outside the UN Peacekeeping mission’s temporary base in the area when fighting broke out in greater Tambura in 2021 leading to massive loss of life, properties, and widespread displacement.

“As women, we are more vulnerable to the consequences of conflict. Many of us are mothers and it pains us to see our children suffer,” added Suzanna.

Today, as unrest is on the rise in this troubled region of South Sudan’s Western Equatoria state with the postponement of a long-awaited peace conference, accompanied by a deterioration in the overall security situation, Suzanna, who had returned to her farm and home, is justifiably worried.

“We are tired of running for our lives. I am fearful of being displaced again and I worry about my children’s future,” she revealed candidly.

Suzanna’s is not an isolated case as the visiting delegation discovered and their aim in visiting affected communities here was simple: To boost confidence and urge community members themselves to start reconciling their differences peacefully.

“We have set up a security committee and reinforced the numbers of uniformed personnel in Tambura to allay people’s fears and prevent the spread of mis- and disinformation. We believe this will go a long way in helping stabilize the situation,” stated James Severino, state Minister of Local Government and Law Enforcement.

“For us as government partners and UNMISS, we want the people of Tambura to feel safe, continue their livelihood activities without fear and, ultimately, for our entire state to be prosperous,” he added.

Jane Lanyero Kony, Head of the UN Peacekeeping mission’s Field Office in Western Equatoria, reiterated UNMISS’ commitment to protecting civilians.  

“Our goal is to make sure civilians feel safe and are empowered to solve outstanding disputes amicably. To this end, in past weeks, our peacekeepers have intensified day and night patrols within and around Tambura town. Our temporary operating base here has helped boost community confidence. Moreover, we are working in partnership with security organs at the state level to make sure that the strong call from peace that we have heard today from Tambura residents is heeded by all,” she averred.