We need activities, like vocational training, to keep young people busy and out of trouble.
Promoting reconciliation, unity and peaceful coexistence of different communities was the key objective when the UN Mission in South Sudan and its partners embarked on an outreach campaign in the three counties of Nzara, Ibba and Maridi in Western Equatoria. .
While in the process of advocating for dialogue and union, the Blue Helmets also took time to listen to the concerns of people living in the areas visited.
In Nzara County, the one-day event brought together both those who traditionally live here and the many people who have been displaced and came here from Tambura, plagued by conflict and violence.
“We stay with them [the host communities] in peace, we have not been discriminated against,” said a grateful Catherine John, one of the displaced and traumatized people who arrived in Nzara from Tambura.
In Ibba County, the main concern of residents is the lack of provision of meaningful services and activities, particularly for idle youth, despite the relative peace that prevails in the area.
“We, the local youth, are here for peace and collaborate with the security organs, but we have nothing to do. We need activities, like vocational trainings, to keep young people busy and out of trouble,” Soro youth leader John Paulino said as he addressed attendees of a peace rally held at Ibba Market.
In Maridi, the advice received by the visiting peacekeepers was quite simple: Focus and communicate with the Landili part of the county.
“Communities in Maridi County live in peace, but we are concerned about the young people of Landili. Many of them have gone to the bush, possibly to join armed groups, and we are urging the peacekeeping mission to be present there and engage with the population,” said youth representative Malis Charles.
According to Civil Affairs Officer Emmanuel Dukundane, who works at the Mission, the massive displacements caused by the violence in parts of Western Equatoria state mean that the campaign for reconciliation and unity becomes particularly important in the state.
“Displaced people face many challenges as they share already scarce resources with host communities. This situation could generate tensions and frustrations,” he said.