21 Nov 2018

 

Community Leaders, IDPs And Returnees Agree To Promote Peaceful Co-existence In Yei

Community leaders, internally displaced persons and returnees from Uganda and Congo have agreed to leave in peace and promote peaceful co-existence with one another in Yei River County, Yei River State.

Community Leaders, IDPs And Returnees Agree To Promote Peaceful Co-existence In Yei
Participants of the workshop pose for a group photo in Yei [Photo|Daniel Martin Friday]

 By Daniel Friday Martin

YEI, 01 October 2018 [Gurtong]- Yei River County is one of the States in South Sudan that has witnessed a drastic negative impact of the 2016 crisis and as such the area underwent gruesome human rights violations, rampant internal displacements leaving hundreds of thousands to flee into neighboring Uganda and DRC Congo.

The community leaders, returnees and IDP representatives agreed after a four day peace dialogue organized by the Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) with funding from United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through Viable Support to Transition (VISTAS) which brought together 40 participants including area headmen and headwomen (Chiefs), IDPs, returnee, land commission, Relief and Rehabilitation commission, peace and reconciliation commission and local government officials to brainstorm on ways to promote peaceful co-existence in Yei River County.

CEPO-Yei River State office, in a statement on Sunday, said the workshop equipped community leaders, IDPs and returnees with skills and knowledge on conflict resolution, peace building, social cohesion,  trauma, forgiveness and reconciliation as well as dissemination of the signed peace agreement and peace advocacy and lobbing.

“As a community based organization (CEPO), we have discovered that the issue of conflicts still exists in the society, we targeted the returnees, IDPs, headmen (chiefs) as Trainers of trainees (TOTs) in a get together peace dialogue because many South Sudanese who ran to Uganda, DR Congo and within the bushes of Yei River State are returning to re-settle in their respective areas in Yei River County and it’s important that we take them through trauma awareness, counseling  peace building, reconciliation and forgiveness and confidence building on advocacy and the signed contents of the 2018 revitalized peace agreement so that they live in peace and unity with one another” the statement reads in part.

Speaking at the end of the workshop, one of the IDP representatives Alice Siama Philip said “We are ready to forgive, reconcile, leave houses belonging to our brothers and sisters who were either displaced like me or who ran to Uganda or Congo and are coming back to settle in their previous places.”

She also added that “in this workshop we have been told by our facilitators that, as we go back to our communities, we should open up a new page for forgiveness, reconciliation and peaceful co-existence with one another and indeed this is what we are going to implement starting from our families, areas, villages, Bomas, Payams, Counties and the entire Yei River State” she added.

Tabu Jean a returnee who recently arrived from Bidi-Bidi camp in Uganda told participants that living conditions in the camp were not pleasing prompting her to return to Yei as a result of the signed peace agreement.

Tabu is appealing to the County and State Governments to restore peace and stability as many South Sudanese back in Uganda are yarning to return home after hearing that the country has relative favorable living conditions..

“In the camp, life is not so good; many people are suffering without access to good feeding, education, medication and clean drinking water. My appeal to the Commissioner of Yei River County and the Governor is that we need peace with total absence to unnecessary gun shots, killings, rape and displacements again because a huge number of people in Uganda want to return home but that will only happen when the government has silenced killings, arrests, gun shots and fighting in the area.” She added.

Tabu applauded CEPO for having brought them together to dialogue and talk freely to address issues affecting them more especially on trauma healing, reconciliation, peace building and peace advocacy at the community level.

“As a returnee representative, we will all join hands with our brothers and sisters who were left in Yei and the community leaders to campaign for peace so that we all talk peace, walk peace, sleep peace, eat peace and dance peace in Yei” Tabu concluded amidst hand- claps  from the rest of the  participants.  

Joel Baba Alex, an area headman in Hai Lebben residential area in Yei River County also praised CEPO and its partners for having organized the peace building workshop for community leaders of his category for the first time in Yei River County after the outbreak of the crisis in 2016.

Speaking as the chief guest at the end of the four days peace workshop, Justine Lokonga Modi, the Commissioner of Yei River County appreciated CEPO and peace partners for reaching out to the people at a time when the government is unable to do so most importantly after the signing of the peace agreement.

 “In the first place allow me to thank the management of CEPO because its leader Mr. Edmund Yakani is a courageous person who advocates and campaigns for peace and human rights starting from Juba, Khartoum, Adis-Ababa and the rest of the states of South Sudan. The Government of Yei is happy because of CEPO’s peace activities in Yei River County.”

Justine appealed to the management of CEPO not to limit its “peace building activities” to only Yei River County but also expand on the same peace advocacy programs to the rural parts of Yei River County, Morobo, Lainya, Kajo-Keji, Tore, Otogo and the rest of the places so that the people of Yei River State can start building and owning local peace to promote peaceful co-existence in the whole State.

Justine said non-Governmental organizations (NGOs) complement the work of the local government in areas where the government is unable to deliver timely so as to create trust and confidence between the people and the Government.

“Many of the people in Yei are traumatized because of the crisis, my appeal to CEPO is that you have a huge work to do not only in Yei River County but also in other rural areas of the State so that people understand the importance of living in peace and embark on development and upgrade their livelihood programs through agriculture” he reiterated.

The Commissioner further called on the participants who benefited from the peace building workshop to go and become community peace agents.

“Don’t go and sleep down with the knowledge and skills you have received from this workshop, go out there and become agents for peace who campaign the drive for peace at the community level. I believe you have gotten enough from CEPO so go out there and cultivate the spirit of peace, reconciliation and forgiveness among community members.”




 

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