YEI TOWN RESIDENTS ATTRIBUTE A MONTH OF RELATIVE CALM TO UNMISS PRESENCE
Residents of Yei town in the Yei River area have commended the presence of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), saying it has helped them to witness a month-long period of relative calm.
On 25 January, the UN mission established its office in Yei to improve security in the once restive town, and to make it possible for peacekeepers to patrol villages that would have been impenetrable without a base in the area.
A mother of three, Agnes Kiden, said she now felt a sense of relief from the trauma caused by the ongoing fighting in the state, thanks to the presence of UN peacekeepers. Kiden said that her hope started increasing nearly three years ago, when the blue helmets first set their boots in Yei town, following the escalation of fighting in the area.
“When nights set in those days, you would be imagining who the next prey of the killers could be, and when you heard gunshots in the neighbourhoods, no doubt some souls would have departed to their maker,” Ms. Kiden narrated.
Simon Juma, a 26-year old resident of Yei town, could still recall a period of hardship in the town, when armed elements were roaming the streets, kidnapping, raping, robbing, beating and stealing everything they could come across.
“Now that has changed,” Mr. Juma said, adding:
People have hope and trust that when one retires to bed in the evening, there is still a second chance of waking up on another hopeful morning.
“Since the opening of the UN Base, we have not received any complaints about armed robbers knocking on the doors of civilians in the town – since the opening of the UN office on 25 January!” said Peter Seeid, who doubles as Paramount Chief of Yei and ‘C’ Court President. “Civilians now have the free will to continue with their daily chores up to 9 p.m.,” he added.
Mr. Seeid said that civilians in Yei town no longer live in fear the way they used to, and are now confident that the danger to their lives is gone.
“We are so thankful to UNMISS for deploying its force protection unit here. I can now proudly say that life is returning to normalcy in the town, as children can now go back to school, and the sick to hospital,” he said.
There is an increased number of people on the streets, too, cited by residents as proof of the atmosphere of diminishing fear and insecurity.