The situation in Ikotos town in Eastern Equatoria State has returned to normal, with schools, businesses, and other social amenities reopening after fear griped the area last week following clashes between the army and civilians.
Ikotos County authorities also revealed plans to hold a public rally to placate the town’s population who had fled their homes but are now back, to create confidence.
Adamu Samuel, the head teacher of the AIC Luther Secondary School, told Radio Tamazuj that schools had resumed operations after a week’s closure and that the situation had stabilized.
“Right now the situation is normal and I am talking from my office. All the schools are operating now, only that the number of children is not up to date because the rest of the children and their parents fled because of the incident which happened,” he said. “The children are coming back and will resume their classes. It was scary and the teachers also had to protect the children because of the random shooting from crossfire.”
“The school closure lasted one full week,” he added.
A local trader, Ekwang John, said they opened their shops at the direction of the commissioner.
“People have reopened because the commissioner and organized forces here asked us to open shops. The situation was not good and some people have not returned. Maybe if the governor comes, it will help,” he said. “For now, the situation is quite normal now. These people still have wounds in their hearts so the two warring groups should be sat down to resolve the matter.”
Joseph Loholong Jenisio, the commissioner of Ikotos County, said calm had returned to the area and confirmed that schools and markets have reopened.
“The schools and markets are open and all the institutions are functioning. This is because we announced that everybody should come back,” he said. “The situation is calm and this is why people have started living freely and cultivating seriously. We are here to control the treats we are still preparing to conduct a rally.”
Ihisa Marta, a resident of Hai Askal in Ikotos town, said there is relative calm in the town but urged the government to protect civilians and mitigate further tensions.
“The situation has improved somehow compared to the past. You can see children are now moving to school and the market has now reopened,” she said. “The situation has returned to normal and people are now moving freely without any fear. Many people have returned and children are playing freely.”
“We need a strong government to come to protect civilians,” she added.
A resident of the Lokudaru, who only identified himself as Koki, said that although there is a semblance of normalcy, many civilians are still in neighboring countries. He also demanded better civil-military relations in the area.
“We have returned home and we are living peacefully but some people are still running. Some continue to go to the camp, others are going to Torit,” he said. “What made us return is because forces were deployed. It was not a good life before because the civilians and the army wanted to fight.”
“Our top officials should come and talk to people, especially the civilians to find out what their problems are so that everybody will share their opinion,” he advised.
The state information minister, Patrick Oting Cyprian, also said the county is currently enjoying relative peace and stability.
“Calm has returned in Ikotos and people are doing very well. As we are talking, there is supposed to be a rally in Ikotos by the commissioner to talk to the communities of Ikotos about the general situations,” he said.
Source: Radio Tamazuj