UNMISS supports faith-based leaders bringing peace and hope to displaced families in Nagero

17 Dec 2021

UNMISS supports faith-based leaders bringing peace and hope to displaced families in Nagero

Denis Louro

The UN peacekeeping helicopter circles over the small town of Nagero before gently touching down not far from a sea of makeshift shelters.

On board is a delegation of South Sudanese faith-based leaders supported by the United Nations Mission on their visit to share messages of solidary, hope and peace with families who have fled violence in Tambura.

Their situation is dire. They have no access to clean water, food, hospitals, or schools. Their clothes are threadbare and torn and most children have no shoes.

Mother of six, Joyce Peter, shares her story of walking for four days from Tambura to Nagero in an attempt to escape the fighting when it broke out in early June.

“Some of my neighbours were killed, so I decided to run here with my children. We left my husband behind,” she says. “We are starving and have no water. We don’t even have utensils to eat with. We are also sick and there are no medicines at the hospital. We are relying on traditional herbs to cure us.”   

The religious leaders say they are here to express solidarity with the community and to urge those responsible for the violence to reconcile so that peace and stability is restored.   

 “We have come to listen and to pray with the people. We want to restore hope because, for people in this situation who have left their homes, the hopelessness feels overwhelming,” says Bishop Dr. Arkanjelo Wani Lemi from the South Sudan Council of Churches. “We have also come to give them counsel and to advise them to live in harmony with one another and seek peace.”

It’s difficult to find hope in this situation. People literally have nothing. Shelters are made of sticks tied together. The lucky ones have thatching to provide shade from the searing sun. Those who aren’t so lucky sleep out in the open surrounded by mosquitos and flies.

When the conflict began, UNMISS rapidly responded by establishing a temporary base in Tambura to deter violence and build peace. It intensified patrols and protected displaced families seeking sanctuary next to the base. Numerous peacebuilding events, including high-level political visits, forums, and dialogue sessions have been hosted between the communities in conflict.

“We continue to support communities on their journey towards peace,” says Stella Abayomi, UNMISS Civil Affairs Officer. “We also continue to also look at how they are living. What do they need to get back to normalcy and what can we do to help with that process?”

The peacekeeping mission will continue to do everything it can to support these communities to end the conflict and rebuild their lives in the hope they can enjoy a better future.