Friday, July 12, 2024

United Nations Mission in South Sudan’s (UNMISS) convenes community dialogue to end cattle-related conflict in Kidepo valley


For decades, communities in Torit, Budi, and Ikotos counties of South Sudan’s Eastern Equatoria state have been caught in a persistent cycle of intercommunal violence.

These entrenched divides are driven by cattle raids, revenge killings as well as seasonal cattle migration which brings with it competition over grazing areas and water resources.

Recently, the youth from the Kraal community have taken measures to end longstanding cattle-related conflicts with pastoral communities in the Kidepo Valley area, including the Didinga, Lotuko, and Logiragreeing.

This agreement was reached after a peace dialogue facilitated by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan’s (UNMISS) Civil Affairs Division in Chahari, Ikotos.

“Today, we reaffirm our commitment to peace with our neighbours. We make this vow to the youth in our communities and will take all steps to ensure that it remains unbroken,” said Sebit Kizito, a Kraal community leader from Lobira village in Ikotos.

During the dialogue, Kraal leaders agreed to disarm perpetrators, arrest suspects, and introduce animal permits for movements, a few key measures designed to help prevent violence during farming season.

“Violence always spikes during cultivation season, and it has taken a heavy toll on settled communities,” revealed Dominic Lopeyok from Budi county.

The already unstable situation in the Kidepo Valley region had worsened in recent months with frequent road ambushes.

However, Joseph Obore, a peace dialogue participant from Torit says he believes the outcomes of the forum are positive.

“The agreed-upon outcomes will help prevent raids, allowing for peaceful coexistence and the preservation of our livelihoods,” he stated.

For her part, Alexandra Tomczak, a Civil Affairs Officer from the UN Peacekeeping mission’s Field Office in Torit, was heartened by the spirit of amity demonstrated by participants.

“As South Sudan approaches its first national elections in December this year, it is wonderful to see formerly feuding communities realize the importance of social cohesion in ushering in a more peaceful, prosperous future for all. I urge all community members to coordinate with authorities to address any disputes according to the law of the land and not take matters into their own hands,” she affirmed.

Speaking at the event, Peter Lokeng Lotone, state Minister of Local Government and Law Enforcement Agencies, assured participants of the government’s commitment to disarming civilian populations in remote areas.

“The only way to secure a safe environment is through disarmament because guns in the hands of people cause continued criminality,” he asserted.

“This is vital for all of South Sudan to move forward, develop and prosper.”

The Kidepo Valley region is a vast area inhabited by feuding pastoral communities. Over the years, deep-seated hostilities had transformed conflict dynamics from cattle raids to deliberate attacks on villages and vulnerable groups, including women and children.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

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