July 16, 2019 (RUMBEK) – The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) recently organized a forum to sensitize communities in the Greater Lakes region on the dangers of inter-communal fighting.
The forum, UNMISS reported on its website, was an early warning response to what it described as a potential revenge attack by the Rup community on their Pakam neighbours in the Greater Lakes.
“It is not easy to convince these youths not to seek revenge when their cattle have been stolen, but constantly engaging with them is yielding results. Every day we talk to them about the importance of peaceful co-existence with other communities,” Matur War Wang, the veteran executive chief of Among Piny county told UNMISS.
Having reportedly lost two sons during violent cattle raids, Matur is steadfast when explaining the danger caused by revenge attacks.
“If they [Rup youth] go for revenge, then the other people [Pakam community] will do the same and there will be no end to this violence,” he said.
According to UNMISS, frequent tensions and cattle raids, often claiming multiple lives, between the Rup, Pakam and Kuei communities saw the three groups sign a local peace deal.
In March and April, however, there were attacks aimed at stealing cows, which were a violation to the agreements that were signed.
“We are here to ensure that the earlier peace agreement that was signed by the Rup, Pakam and Kuei communities is not violated. When we got the early warning, we decided to come in and prevent any possible revenge attack plans from happening,” said Gibril Allan Toure, a civil affairs officer with UNMISS.
Meanwhile, for security reasons, the youth cattle keepers have reportedly moved their animals to the Among Piny county headquarters, where government forces can provide protection should they experience attacks from neighbouring communities.
Youth leaders at the forum also decried the continued existence of illegal arms in the area.
Since South Sudan’s independence in 2011, cattle raids and revenge attacks have claimed many lives.