Tuesday, February 17, 2015

South Sudan: IDPs organize peace and reconciliation forum in Malakal

Source: UN Mission in South Sudan 
IDPs organize peace and reconciliation forum in Malakal

The top UNMISS official in Upper Nile today commended internally displaced people (IDPs) living on the mission’s base for organizing their first peace and reconciliation forum.

“This is a sign of collective efforts from all of you (and)… it is good that you (decided) to solve your issues smoothly through dialogue,” said Upper Nile State Coordinator Deborah Schein.

Ms. Schein was speaking at the end of a two-day conference organized by the IDPs Peace and Security Council in partnership with UNMISS under the theme, “Peace from within”.

Over 400 displaced people, including religious leaders, elders, youth and women from different tribes attended the conference. The forum, the first organized by IDPs themselves, was one of a series of events following fighting along tribal lines in the protection site in October 2014.

“Seeing you all together means there is hope for the future,” said Ms. Schein. “… (Although) people are very diverse, strong and independent; and have a wide range of opinions and views, they should able to live together in peace and security.”

Peace and Security Council Chairperson Matthew Chuol thanked UNMISS for standing by them during the ongoing crisis and urged IDPs to unite in peace and embrace reconciliation. ““Peace is the only way for us to survive,” he said.

Women representatives voiced the need for peace in strong terms.

“We are tired of fighting. This is why we are here sheltering at UNMISS,” said Achol Nyibong, a female participant. “We should give peace a chance in our protection site and we should ignore instigators of confusion among us.”

Many participants blamed youth in the protection site for criminal activities leading to misunderstanding between communities.

“We acknowledge our mistake as youth by blindly following the wrong advice from our leaders in most cases,” said Sabino Adwok, a youth representative. “From today, we will pursue peace between us as much as we can.”

Participants recommended the promotion of cultural rules of Upper Nile communities, more balanced gender representation within the Peace and Security Council and more forums, especially for youth and women, focusing on gender-based violence as well as peace and reconciliation.