UNMISS training in restive Lainya gives hope to communities, authorities amid resolute calls for peace
CENTRAL EQUATORIA – “When you empower a woman, you empower the whole nation,” says Emmanuel Khamis Richard, Lainya County Commissioner.
“Women make up 50 per cent of our population and their full participation in politics, leadership and decision-making is critical for South Sudan to establish itself as a true democracy,” continued Commissioner Richard, addressing an attentive audience gathered for a training facilitated by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
Luice Nathaniel Wani, a 54-year-old mother of four participating in the workshop agreed.
“Thanks to UNMISS, we now understand the immense importance of peaceful coexistence among communities. It is the only way we will be able to shape a future of prosperity and progress for our children,” she stated.
Luice, also a women’s leader in Lainya county, where the training took place, isn’t alone in her vision of a more peaceful, politically stable future.
Matthew John, paramount chief of the county agrees with her. Mr. John also believes that effective service delivery for communities is the key to reconciliation and peacebuilding.
“Our people need to feel safe; they need developed road networks, quality education for their children and healthcare,” he asserts.
“Every human being has an inalienable right to be able to live to their fullest potential and our government must fulfil its responsibilities, while we, as citizens, are obligated to keep up our end of the bargain by opting to come together under a shared national identity,” he adds.
For Commissioner Richard, memories of conflict are still fresh, and he has seen its impact on women and children firsthand.
“An unceasing cycle of conflict has left an indelible impression on communities in Lainya,” reveals the Commissioner. “Recently, livestock herders came to our midst and destroyed our farmlands. Over the years, so many community members were either killed, displaced, or fled to neighbouring countries to seek refuge. I am pleased to say that all cattle keepers have now left, and we are slowly moving back to a more stable existence,” he avers.
Despite their suffering, participants were hopeful of leaving the wounds of the past behind and looking forward to lasting peace.
“I have understood that the onus of building sustainable peace doesn’t merely lie with the authorities,” said 28-year-old youth leader, Joseph Lokulenge. “We too have an equal measure of liability and must reconcile our differences for the sake of development and progress.”
For its part, UNMISS continues to provide a protective presence here and build relationships of trust among communities.