In Upper Nile, peace activists gather to discuss new conflict prevention strategies
UPPER NILE – Hope for lasting peace is slowly blossoming in conflict-ridden Upper Nile state in South Sudan, thanks to joint efforts by local communities, state authorities and the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
Case in point: A recent inter county dialogue facilitated by the UN Peacekeeping mission’s Civil Affairs Division which saw 50 participants hold free and frank discussions on the impact of violence and strategize on ways to find dialogue-based, peaceful solutions to disputes.
This community-led brainstorming session took place in Bunj leading to a resounding consensus: everybody wants durable peace.
“Speaking to one another lets up appreciate our differences while acknowledging that we have the same needs,” said Chadier Biakah Bol, a youth and gender advocate.
“Dialogues also provide us the opportunity to identify specific engagements for women to become actively engaged in peacebuilding,” she added.
For his part, Stephen Talepana, an elderly peace activist and member of a customary court believes in passing down his wisdom.
“We must find new ways to prevent conflict by working across state borders and harnessing transgenerational wisdom. It is important to use traditional conflict resolution measures such as the customary courts but also to take longstanding issues up the formal judicial system in case the former fails. We can no longer watch our children dying in revenge killing,” he stated.
Participants pointed out many cross-cutting challenges that hamper peaceful coexistence– climate change, food insecurity, a lack of quality healthcare and education, livestock raids and revenge attacks.
“Our job is to help them identify key problems preventing the peace process from moving forward at a time where timely national elections in 2024 remain the primary hope for a permanent peace,” revealed Mohammed Abdi, a Civil Affairs Officer working at the UNMISS Field Office in Malakal.
The event concluded with participants signed a resolution on conflict prevention strategies and a promise by all to trickle down the knowledge they have gained far and wide in their respective counties.