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UNMISS Conducts Three-Day Peace Workshop in Tambura Following Recent Upsurge of Violence

“Now more than ever, we need to have conversations and dialogue that will lead to a lasting peace,” said Terezina Utu, a resident of Tambura, Western Equatoria.

Terezina was speaking at a peace forum following a series of recent armed attacks in the greater Tambura region which has led to death, displacement and untold suffering.

“We have been living together in harmony for years and are wondering why conflict has destroyed the social fabric of our lives now,” she continued.

Terezina’s concerns and questions are echoed by many who have had their belongings looted, homes burnt to the ground and farms destroyed. She, herself, is one of some 30,000 displaced people who are sheltering near the UNMISS temporary base as well as church and school premises in Tambura town.

Mateyo Makiso, a community elder attending the workshop also raised concerns about the number of arms present in and around Tambura. “We aren’t a rich community and do not have the means or the will to buy guns or ammunition. I believe these arms have been smuggled in here and it is very worrying,” he said.

Sentina Gabriel, a youth representative, also pointed out that young people in the area are, at times, being instigated by certain elements of society. “We must stand up against people misleading our youth and encouraging them to resort to unnecessary violence,” she stated.

For his part, Edmund Yakani, Managing Director, Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO), said he believed that peace dialogues were a sustainable way for affected communities to build their resilience and overcome recent upheavals.

“The source of conflict in Tambura is not from within the communities themselves, but from outside forces. As such, dialogue-based fora, bringing together people to discuss mitigating violence and building confidence is, perhaps, the best way forward,” said Mr. Yakani.

Similarly, for Emmanuel Ndukundani, a Civil Affairs Officer with the peacekeeping mission, discussions are the only way forward. “Our job is to enable communities to come together in peace and be able to find ways that will reduce tensions,” he stated. “This is only the first in a series of planned workshops and interventions that, we hope, will enable people to rebuild their lives and live together peacefully once again.”

The three-day workshop facilitated jointly by UNMISS, Interfaith Council for Peace and CEPO drew more than 80 participants, including women, youth, community elders and displaced persons.

Upon its conclusion, all attendees resolved to trickle down messages of coexistence and do everything within their power to re-establish peace in this troubled part of Western Equatoria.

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