Jubilant scenes at an UNMISS-funded peace festival in Kapoeta North County. Photos: Moses Yakudu/UNMISS
EASTERN EQUATORIA – Some 5,000 people gathered for a peace festival in Riwoto town, located in Kapoeta North County. They flocked to the vibrant musical event, organized by the County Commissioner and funded by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), for a day of healing joy, following the trauma caused by recent cattle raids causing displacements.
“To receive messages of peace from our state governor and the Head of the peacekeeping mission’s Field Office in Eastern Equatoria can help us recover from the pain we are going through. We have lost cows and relatives, but we will move on to live in peace” said Elias Iko Lotede, a youth leader.
Governor Louis Lobong Lojore’s speech may indeed have inspired the young man.
“Let us go back to Lopokor cattle camp and our villages to live in harmony together with our neigbouring communities, because that way we can enjoy peace in Kapoeta,” said the Governor, urging everyone to forgive and reconcile to promote stability and development.
The UN peacekeeping mission works closely with local authorities in different parts of Eastern Equatoria to reduce tensions and prevent intercommunal fighting. Community dialogues, sport and cultural events, and patrols in areas prone to violence are some of the activities undertaken to improve the situation.
“I want to encourage you to stay calm as you seek the most peaceful way to retrieve your raided cattle,” said Caroline Waudo, Head of the UNMISS Field Office in the state.