UNMISS, humanitarians and state officials visit Rualbet to engage communities, foster reconciliation
WARRAP – Following an upsurge in violence in the remote Rualbet area of Warrap, an air patrol piloted by United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) stands ready to take an integrated team of peace brokers to meet affected communities.
It’s an overcast day as UNMISS peacekeepers, state officials, humanitarian partners from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) duck under the whirring rotors to board.
The high-level delegation is on a meaningful mission: To convene and connect with affected communities plus find ways in which recovery and reconciliation can take place.
"We appreciate our international friends—UNMISS and humanitarians alike—for helping restore peace and security to our communities. Stability is returning here slowly; uniformed actors have vacated school and hospital premises that they had temporarily commandeered when fighting was at its peak to ensure that much-needed aid supplies can reach our people,” says Aleu Ayien Aleu, Governor of Warrap, as he addressed a large gathering of community members and the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces on the ground.
Visiting state officials also assured community members that the government will uphold the rule of law and ensure justice is delivered to victims of conflict, especially women and young girls.
Rose Anyang, State Minister of Gender and Social Welfare, encouraged women to report any acts of sexual violence that may have been perpetrated against them. "We are aware that in times of conflict, women and children are always the most affected. However, we must hold whoever mistreated you accountable and bring them to justice. There is no exception to this rule,” says Minister Anyang.
On behalf of community members, Mabior Parek Machar, Chief of Rualbet, takes the floor, narrating stories that reinforce the urgent need for humanitarian aid.
"We are already weakened by conflict and now the rains are upon us. Flooding has obstructed roadways and destroyed people’s homes. We are crippled by hunger and disease. We need all the help we can get,” he reveals grimly.
For her part, Anastasie Mukangarambe, the Head of the UN Peacekeeping mission’s Field Office in Kuajok, reaffirmed its commitment to help create an environment conducive to the delivery of humanitarian assistance.
"Peace, development and humanitarian assistance are inextricably entwined. It has been painful to hear about your suffering and now that there is a relative calm in Rualbet, I assure you we will do everything within our power to enable our humanitarian colleagues to provide you with the aid that you so desperately need. But every citizen of Rualbet must commit to building peace because it is the gateway to development and prosperity. Peace begins with each and every one of you gathered here today,” she urges passionately.
Additionally, Ms. Mukangarambe thanked the communities for their efforts to restore amicable relations between civilians and armed forces. "Today, I'm pleased to see both men and women present. The last time humanitarian partners visited, they could only meet women and the elderly. This indicates that the security situation has improved significantly."
Conflict in Rualbet was triggered at the end of June this year due to a clash between the SSPDF and civilians over recovering cattle stolen in a raid. Since then, more than 8,000 people have been displaced.
UNMISS is working with all stakeholders to ensure a conducive environment for the Agencies, Funds and Programmes to provide humanitarian aid.
Furthermore, the UN Peacekeeping mission is continuously engaging with government and local authorities to hold community dialogues and reduce tensions between armed actors and civilians.