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In the Face of Uncertainty, Residents of Aweil Remain Hopeful of Unity

More than 1,000 residents in the Maper area of Aweil mustered their best rallying call for peace during a neighbourhood-wide advocacy initiative held this week to promote a better understanding of the country’s revitalized peace agreement. 

“We are here today disseminating copies of the peace agreement so that each and every South Sudanese can own their futures,” said regional peace coordinator William Kolong.

The event, organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan’s Communication and Public Information Office in Aweil, in collaboration with the Peace Commission of the greater Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal region, brought together representatives from the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring and Verification Mechanism to clarify the content of last year’s peace deal, as well as to respond to queries from the crowd.

“It is a fruitful day. It has brought unity amongst our people,” said activist Angelina Thiep.

With the formation of a transitional government of national unity having recently been delayed by 100 days, the event was a timely one. That decision, agreed on by President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar, did not, however, go down well among some of the people gathered in Maper.

“We women do not accept postponing peace. We do not have roads. We have lost our children,” said Alakiir Dut Diing, another female advocate for unity.

Aweil’s minster of local government, Deng Ayoum Ayoum, just one of the local and regional functionaries who came to show their solidarity, assured participants that Aweil would nonetheless remain peaceful and would continue pursuing developmental activities to benefit its residents.

“Reconciliation and unity are our top priorities,” he said.

Despite the remaining hurdles, the ongoing peace process has brought a number of improvements to the community as well as to the country at large, including a reduction of violence and a firmer commitment to peace since the signing of the revitalized peace agreement in September 2018.

“The ceasefire is holding and, as a result, more displaced persons are returning home from refugee camps and protection sites,” said Khalif Farah, head of the peacekeeping mission’s field office in Aweil. “This is a huge achievement.”

The passionate appeals for peace were stoked with equally ardent traditional performances put on by various cultural groups, musicians, and comedians, eliciting laughter and joy from onlookers and proving that the famously resilient South Sudanese spirit is still there for all to see.

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

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