Cattle rustling and raiding have been among the causes of conflict in South Sudan's communities prompting even some UN agencies and other organizations to launch a robust campaign against the practice.
Through the support of South Sudan Humanitarian Fund (SSHF), World Vision conducted an inter-community peace conference in Tonj North County in Warrap State. It aimed to address the root causes of conflict among cattle keepers and find lasting solutions to this problem.
A total of 60 participants attended the conference representing the nine payams of Marial-Low, Rualbet, Akop, Alabek, Alek, Kirik, Awul, Pagol and Manlor. Payam is the second-lowest administrative division in the county next to counties and have a minimum of 25,000 population.
Eight executive chiefs, nine cattle camp leaders, the Minister of Local Government and Acting Governor Peter Paduol Manyong, Tonj North Commissioner Hon. Kuol Akoon Mawien and Chairperson of Human Rights Hon. Riak Madut Angok.
During the discussions, cattle camp leader Malook Garang Deng, 37, said that for peace to reign, the government should allow leaders to not only arrest cattle raiders but require them to return the stolen cattle to the rightful owners.
Prior to the event, 12 cows were stolen from Alek Payam and has created tension in the communities. After the conference, Malook returned the 12 cows. This came as a shock to all the participants because no such thing had happened before.
“I am happy with what Malook has done. I encourage him to continue with the good spirit and challenge all of you to do the same so that all our communities can live together in peace and harmony”, says Commissioner Kuol.
I advise the chiefs and cattle camp leaders to be brothers for peace so they can do farming and start small businesses. This will help put an end to the revenge killing, raiding of cattle and violence against girls and women.
The commissioner appreciated World Vision for the support and urged for more support on dialogues. Maker Mabuoc, the paramount chief of Kirik Payam, also appreciated World Vision and the government for initiating the dialogue.
He says, “This will help us return to our homes and move freely from one payam to another. Let us stop revenge killing, cattle raiding and looting of people’s properties.”
Chairperson Riak Madut Angok urged communities to embrace peace and live peacefully to allow humanitarian agencies like World Vision to deliver services to the vulnerable population.
“I advise the chiefs and cattle camp leaders to be brothers for peace so they can do farming and start small businesses. This will help put an end to the revenge killing, raiding of cattle and violence against girls and women”, Hon. Peter Paduol says.
Kon Aguer Mawien, a community member of Warrap town proposed that the dialogue should be done rotationally in communities to reach-out to everybody.
Project Manager Joseph Deng Deng says, “With support from the government and World Vision, the quest for peace can gain strength. It is timely to help address this issue and end the suffering of our people. It is vital for our to live peacefully.”
Story by Jemima Tumalu, Communications Officer I Photos by World Vision staff in Warrap.