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Kidepo Valley communities agree to implement resolutions of previous peace deals

Women in Eastern Equatoria's Kidepo Valley are tired of the fighting between different communities in the area. Photos: Moses Yakudu/UNMISS

EASTERN EQUATORIA - As elections draw closer, peaceful co-existence between South Sudanese communities becomes a top priority. That is true of the Kidepo Valley region, where eight communities try, and have often failed, to share resources and live harmoniously side by side.

During a recent two-day forum organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), Eastern Equatoria’s Peace Commission and other stakeholders, community leaders from the valley’s villages decided to make amends by implementing and respecting agreements reached during several previous peace accords.

“We want the involvement of government to stand with us and enforce the rule of law to put an end to child abductions, cattle raiding and revenge killings, said Paska Frederic Pasqual, a women’s representative. “The men who fight are our husbands, brothers or children, so you can imagine the pain of all our losses because of violence.”

Competition over grazing land and water have historically resulted in persistent clashes between the residents of the valley area. Resolutions to end hostilities have always been broken.

The solution to achieve lasting peaceful coexistence, lies, according to UNMISS Civil Affairs Officer Abdul Kamara, with the communities themselves.

“The government can deploy security organs, but if you are not ready for peace, our efforts will be fruitless. Your future is in your own hands,” he said. “You will have to make peace your personal business and act; don’t treat this issue lightly, because peace begins with you,” he added.

Members of the state’s Legislative Assembly urged local leaders to register all firearms so that their use can be easily traced and help apprehend perpetrators of crimes.

“The biggest problem is the proliferation of firearms among the youth,” concluded Augustine Marino, one of the parliamentarians present at the forum.

Holding community members accountable for any wrongdoings they may commit was another key recommendation to accomplish better intercommunal relations.