Unity region cattle keepers pledge to coexist peacefully during resource-scarce dry season

unmiss bentiu unity south sudan guit rubkona peacekeeping conflict prevention cattle migration

Representatives from the Guit and Rubkona communities in Unity discuss how to prevent intercommunal conflicts related to cattle migration and scarce resources.

23 Jan 2020

Unity region cattle keepers pledge to coexist peacefully during resource-scarce dry season

Luk Riek Nyak/Filip Andersson

Cattle herders, traditional chiefs, representatives of youths and women, peace coordinators and church leaders from the Guit and Rubkona communities in the Unity region of South Sudan have committed themselves to avoid conflicts and violence during the seasonal migration of their animals in search of pastures and water.

They made their pledges at a two-day-long peace forum organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan aimed at identifying and mitigating problems likely to appear during the resource-scarce dry season, when competition for grazing land tends to become fierce.

“Our concern is that neighbouring cattle herders who come and stay here for a good four months should not disrupt intercommunal relations by stealing our cows when they go back home,” explained the Guit paramount chief Koang Makuach Jiokjiok, who also suggested that gun owners should be made to register their weapons with the government.

One key component of the strategy to avoid intercommunal clashes between cattle herders would be to agree on mechanisms to regulate the migration of cows and goats. Such possible agreements were also discussed at the forum, with the hope that clear rules could pave the way for a conducive environment to successfully reconcile the Jikany community in Guit with the Leek people in Rubkona.

As part of the plan to achieve such peaceful coexistence, Gatwang Dador, paramount chief in Rubkona, pledged to hold talks with the youth of his area before they start moving their cattle.

“Our traditional leaders, youth and women’s leaders will have a meeting to discuss how to strengthen relations with our neighbors in Guit. We will discourage our cattle herders from causing any trouble,” the paramount chief said, adding that good intercommunal relations are important to avoid suffering among humans and livestock alike.