MACH SAMUEL The outgoing commander of the UN Mission’s peacekeeping forces in the Jonglei region is appealing to the people and authorities of South Sudan to end the violence and build sustainable peace.
Jonglei, in the Upper Nile region, has been the site of a number of violent clashes related to cattle raiding, child abduction, and inter-communal revenge killing since the civil war broke out in South Sudan in 2013.
Brigadier General Karanbir Singh Brar, who has led troops in the area, known as the eastern sector, says that the peacekeeping presence, particularly regular patrols, has made a difference in protecting civilians and building peace but there is much more to be done.
“The people of South Sudan must leave the culture of guns behind them and help each other,” he said. “When peace comes, then some development can come in. If violence continues, it will be very difficult to make roads. Therefore, nobody will come here to make roads but if it is peaceful, then you will have aid coming in.”
The Brigadier General is urging the community to resolve their differences through dialogue and a democratic process.
Last week, he visited the scene of a catastrophic armed raid that left about 70 dead and 50 children abducted. The visit and an air patrol helped provide security for humanitarian agencies conducting a needs assessment in the area so that the 13,000 displaced people can receive food and other aid.
The Sector East commander also recently visited Gumuruk in Boma to try to persuade young people accused of mobilizing in preparation for attacks to lay down their arms and work together for peace.
His visit followed a series of violent incidents in the area including the killing of 42 people on the Juba-Bor road in May during ambushes by unidentified gunmen. The road is the major route supply from the South Sudan capital, Juba, to the Jonglei region.
Peacekeepers in the area now provide road patrols in an attempt to increase security for local motorists and commercial traders. This has had a flow on effect for the local economy by increasing the availability of food and other items which had become prohibitively expensive when the road was closed because of ongoing violence. It has also facilitated the safe delivery of humanitarian aid to vulnerable people in the region.
Peacekeepers in Jonglei are also helping provide medical services to the people, especially in emergencies. They are also providing engineering services to rehabilitate the main road, Bor airport, schools, and have installed LED street lights in the town.