United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) convenes forum to support youth in ending cattle related conflict in greater Kapoeta

Many parts of South Sudan are affected by cattle raids and ambushes between rival communities, which take a deadly toll on civilian lives, disrupt communal harmony, and perpetuate a cycle of violence. And this has been happening too many times among the Kraal community in the Greater Kapoeta area of Eastern Equatoria.

Add to this the high rates of youth unemployment, easy access to firearms and limited opportunities and you have an explosive mix that makes young people vulnerable to criminal acts and incitement.

 The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has, therefore, been working with local authorities, civil society, and community leaders in Kapoeta to deter youth from resorting to crime or violence.

Recently, UNMISS convened a forum in partnership with the Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation Commission in Riwoto town of Kapoeta North County to discuss the findings of an intercommunal dialogue conducted earlier this year.

The forum brought together 50 Kraal youth, elders, women, traditional leaders  from Budi, Kapoeta South and Kapoeta North counties as well as  senior government officials.  

The forum sought to provide an opportunity for Kraal youth from Didinga, Buya, and Toposa communities to address their long-standing differences. It focused on reducing  cattle raids, targeted killings, revenge attacks, and road ambushes.

“We are appealing to  youth to eschew violence  because they are dying without reason. All of us, whether we are Buya, Toposa or  Didinga, are tired of the immense toll such disputes have taken on our lives, especially on women and girls,” averred Rose Lomare, a women’s representative from Kapoeta North.

Some key action points decided at the forum included return of stolen livestock and holding perpetrators of cattle raids and road ambushes accountable.

“We are going back to our communities to talk to the Kraal youth about peace and coexistence, but we also ask the government enforce laws to regulate crimes, and arrest and jail offenders,” said Lino Mertula Lochuk, the Head Chief in Napak Payam of Budi County.

Also present at the event was Morris Merisa Kaunda, the State Minister of Cooperative and Rural Development, who assured participants of the government’s commitment to resolving community disputes peacefully.  

“I call upon all offenders who have wronged each other to accept responsibility for their actions, return what was taken to the rightful owners and find a peaceful, dialogue-based way to resolve outstanding issues,” urged Minister Kaunda.

Representing the UN Peacekeeping mission was Abdul Rahman Kamara, a Civil Affairs Officer from the UNMISS Field Office in Torit, who inspired local youth to demonstrate their intent to focus on development.

“If you raid each other’s cattle and kill one another, what benefit will it bring to you? I urge you instead to join hands to prevent conflict in your community, find means to bring peace and increased investment and development,” he stated.

For their part the government has also announced their intent to hold perpetrators accountable and to help in the recovery of stolen livestock to support communities in their quest for peace.

Initiatives like this aim at encouraging young people to earn productive and legal livelihoods and end this cycle of criminality in Greater Kapoeta.

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

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