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UNMISS and UNDP organize forum in Yambio to discuss ways to promote peace and reconciliation

Some 60 people, including commissioners, community leaders, youth, and women representatives from across Western Equatoria State, recently participated in a peace forum in Yambio organized by UNMISS and UNDP. Photo by Denis Louro/UNMISS.

WESTERN EQUATORIA - Despite efforts by local authorities and partners to de-escalate an ongoing intercommunal conflict, insecurity persists in parts of Western Equatoria State, posing a threat to stable, long-lasting peace.In a bid to help address these issues, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), along with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), organized a two-day forum for 60 participants, including county commissioners, community leaders, youth, and women representatives from across the state.“This forum provides an excellent opportunity to discuss and overcome challenges together, regardless of our political affiliations. Cooperation will enable us to deliver essential services,” said Margaret Fozia, County Commissioner in Mundri East, who also advocates for inter-county rallies and other community mobilization initiatives to eliminate tribalism and promote social cohesion.Several participants emphasized the need for reconciliation, to ensure stability and development in the state, especially in Greater Tambura and Mundri East.“Conflicts and violence may be caused by civilians who haven’t been disarmed and still carry guns. In Greater Tambura, we have recently seen the positive impact of removing arms from people who shouldn’t have them,” noted Mathew Mabenge, County Commissioner in Tambura.On his part, Thomas Kebi, a youth representative from Mundri East, pinpointed the effective rule of law as a key factor to create a stable environment.“Impunity is a serious problem, with perpetrators of crimes not being held accountable. It means they won’t change their behaviour and innocent people will continue to become victims of violence,” he added.Participants appreciated the interactive nature of the forum and its focus on finding solutions to potential problems.Mbiko Barakat, a commissioner of Yambio County, testified to this.“The forum has helped us understand conflict triggers, not only in my own county but also in the context of our state as a whole. What we have learnt here enables us to think outside the box and assist each other in finding peaceful solutions,” said Mbiko Barakat, Comissioner of Yambio County.Jane Lanyero Kony, head of the UNMISS Field Office in Yambio, affirmed that the United Nations Peacekeeping mission is dedicated to supporting harmony in South Sudan.“We are diligently working with the local authorities and other partners to foster lasting peacefulness among communities in this region,” she affirmed.The forum concluded with a strong call for accountability, good governance, and the reliable delivery of essential services.