UNMISS conducts outreach campaign for reconciliation and unity in Western Equatorian counties
WESTERN EQUATORIA - Promoting reconciliation, unity and peaceful coexistence of different communities was the key objective when the UN Mission in South Sudan with partners embarked on an outreach campaign in the three Western Equatorian counties of Nzara, Ibba and Maridi.
While in the process of advocating for dialogue and togetherness, the peacekeepers also took their time to listen to the concerns of people living in the areas visited.
In Nzara County, the one-day event brought together both those traditionally dwelling here and the many persons who have been displaced and arrived here from conflict- and violence-plagued Tambura.
“We are staying with them [the host communities] in peace, we have not been discriminated against,” said a grateful Catherine John, one of the displaced and traumatized people who came to Nzara from Tambura.
In Ibba County, residents’ main concern is the lack of service delivery and meaningful activities, particularly for the idle youth, despite the relative peace that prevails in the area.
“We, the local youth, are here for peace and we collaborate with the security organs, but there is nothing for us to do. We need activities, like vocational trainings, to keep young people busy and away from troublemaking,” said youth leader Soro John Paulino when he addressed those attending a peace rally held at Ibba Market.
In Maridi, the advice received by the visiting peacekeepers was straightforward enough: focus on and reach out to the Landili part of the county.
“Communities in Maridi County are living peacefully, but we are worried about the youth in Landili. Many of them have gone to the bush, possibly to join armed groups, and we are urging the peacekeeping mission to be present there and engage with the population,” said youth representative Malis Charles.
According to Civil Affairs Officer Emmanuel Dukundane, serving with the Mission, the mass displacements caused by violence in parts of Western Equatoria State means that the campaign for reconciliation and unity becomes particularly important in the state.
“The displaced persons are facing a lot of challenges as they are sharing already scarce resources with host communities. This situation could create tensions frustrations,” he said.