UNMISS encourages thousands of livestock owners in Tonj to promote peace and reconciliation
As South Sudan celebrates 10 years of independence from its northern neighbor, Sudan, this week, political violence in the country has greatly reduced with a peace deal and a transitional government of national unity in place.
It is with the intention of fortifying this ongoing push for durable peace and development that the Civil Affairs Section of the UNMISS Field Office in Warrap state, in partnership with the government, encouraged cattle keepers from rival communities in Tonj North to reconcile and become ambassadors for peaceful coexistence.
Some 10,000 young people from various cattle camps spread across Manalor, Pagol, Rualbet, Kirik, Akop, Marial-lou, Alebek and Awul participated in this peace campaign. Women, youth leaders, traditional chiefs and intellectuals also attended the forum, and all pledged their commitment to promoting more peaceful, harmonious interactions in future.
Luol Muor, a representative from Pagol payam (administrative division) summed up the mood succinctly: “We are ready for peace finally. Without peace, no young person can look forward to a brighter future.”
“Peace is a process and it needs to be practiced by every individual every day if it is to be achieved and sustained,” said another livestock owner from Manloor.
Community members attending the event, for their part, highlighted the role of their leaders to ensure that conflict is contained, and disputes resolved amicably. “Community leaders should be impartial arbiters when any skirmish breaks out. If our leaders do not take sides then, we are sure, conflicts will be managed before they escalate,” averred a women’s representative who preferred to remain unnamed.
Civil Affairs Officer Georgina Sarfo-Brobbey encouraged community members to preach peace and use constructive dialogues to solve any outstanding issues among one another.
“Peace is vital and nation-building starts with you,” stated Georgina at the event. “At this pivotal time in South Sudan’s history, it’s important for all state governments to work with everybody at the grassroots to eradicate any causes of conflict,” she continued.
“Specifically, when it comes to conflicts rooted in stealing or raiding of cattle—all of you have a collective responsibility to make sure such disputes are a thing of the past as this young country begins drafting a permanent constitution and commemorates a decade of independence.”
For his part, John Agany Loc, Chair, Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation Committee appealed for amicable settlement of outstanding issues. “We must all leave revenge behind and work collectively with partners to restore confidence in each other across the state,” he said.
Local government officials also attended the event.