Luk Riek Nyak
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has facilitated a unique two-day-long peace forum in Pariang, north of Bentiu. The dialogue was the first time that the peacekeeping mission brought together representatives of both the local community and Sudanese nomads, who seasonally move in to the area in search of pasture for their animals.
The dialogue was attended by a total of 57 people, including legislators, traditional chiefs, religious leaders, women, youths and representatives from the nomadic Falata and Misseriya communities.
The forum, organized by the UNMISS Civil Affairs Division, aimed to promote dialogue and peaceful coexistence during the seasonal migration of the nomadic groups from the north.
“We have had very interactive and candid discussions”, says Jackline Odero, an UNMISS Civil Affairs Officer.
She said the forum enabled the participants to identify gaps between the communities including a lack of collaboration and youths not participating in managing conflicts that have arisen because of a failure to “fully implement previous peace agreements reached between the nomads and the host community“.
The state minister of local government and law enforcement, Simon Nyok Deng, spoke during the opening of the forum and urged the host communities and the nomadic representatives to coexist peacefully, underlining the “disastrous” consequences of conflict.
Mr. Tom Elnar Bakiet, a representative from the nomadic Misseriya community, stressed that relations between his people and the host community have improved since an agreement was reached some time ago.
“Now there is not any problem (between Misseriya and Dinka Pariang), people are moving freely, before there were some issues but after the consultation there was no problem. Problems are caused by the issues of cattle raiding from both sides. Of course there was some random killing, but after the agreement on how people can live together peacefully, there is no issue”, Mr. Bakiet said.
Mr. Bol Buok, a youth representative from Pariang, was also satisfied with the unique dialogue forum, which included discussions about how to solve problems and the role of women and youth in society.
“The message we got from the workshop is that we are the ambassadors to preach peace within our communities, and this is what we have learned from the forum”, Mr. Bol Buok concluded.