Yearlong conflicts in Warrap State’s Greater Tonj area prompted a three-day joint dialogue on peace and reconciliation supported by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and conducted in Marial Lou, Tonj North.
The community members raised several of the most contentious issues, including civilian disarmament, compensation for looted property, roadblocks, and the lack of justice in life-threatening criminal proceedings. The gathering concluded with an agreement reached by all parties.
Mary Angara, a women representative from Marial Lou, praised the Mission’s presence in the area, saying that it has contributed to reaching relative peace among the communities living there.
“We have not seen any severe incidents in the last month. People who sought refuge near the Mission’s Temporary Operating Base out of fear of insecurity have all returned to their homes,” she said. “However, our Tonj communities have lost their integrity as a result of constant conflict. We are families with the women in Luanyjang. We must put an end to communal strife and rewrite history as one Greater Tonj.”
The event was led by the Warrap State government with the participation of key government entities, aiming to bring together the conflict-affected communities in parts of Tonj North and East for conversation. It drew thousands of attendees, including community and traditional leaders, women and youth representatives.
Nyibol Madol, another women representative from the Luanyjang community, urged people to put aside their differences and implement the resolutions reached during the dialogue.
“Our children should no longer die. We have suffered enough losses. Communities in this region should embrace and accept peace. We have the opportunity to develop our livelihoods and share our resources when there is peace,” she said.
Anastasie Mukangarambe, Head of the peacekeeping mission’s Field Office in Kuajok, appealded to the communities to view this conference as the start of a new era of peace and stability in the region. She encouraged them to continue collaborating with the government and peace partners to sustain the current consensus.
Conflicts in the Greater Tonj region have displaced thousands of civilians, resulted in the looting of uncountable facilities, and have impeded access of humanitarian assistance to the area.
Last September, a Temporary Operation Base was established to maintain security and foster an environment conducive to humanitarian assistance, peace negotiations, and the voluntary return of residents to their homes.