Women from Jonglei and Boma sign agreement to end inter-communal fighting

Murle and Dinka women from Boma and Bor respectively have signed a memorandum of understanding to end the violence persistently plaguing relations between the two communities.

Women from Pibor and women from Jonglei condemn the kidnapping of children in the Greater Jonglei region, cattle raidings, road robberies and fighting between youth, Rachael Akuach, chairperson of the Jonglei women's association, said at a dialogue organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.

The forum, bringing together a total of twenty women from the two communities, was the first of its kind, but the agreement reached by them envisages more inter-communal interaction, and the promotion of women's and children's rights at the community level.

Chairperson of Kabirize women group in Boma State Joyce Arkangelo, chairperson of Boma's Kabirize women's group, affirmed that women have a substantial role to play in addressing conflicts.

She says that women from both communities must discourage their husbands and sons from engaging in cattle raidings, child abductions and other crimes.

People in Bor say that their children have been abducted and we accuse them of kidnapping our children. This must stop, and the affected children should be returned to whom they belong, Ms. Arkangelo said.

Over hundreds of years, repeated attacks and retaliations have caused significant losses of life and property among the Murle and Dinka communities, whose relationship has, for the most part, been tense. Efforts aimed at addressing the root causes have been fragmented and largely failed.

Women, while rarely involved in the actual inter-communal fighting, still suffer from the consequences. Yet they have remained conspicuously absent from dialogues and other attempts to mitigate the conflict.

One of the main affected actors by inter and intra communal violence are women, yet they are still largely absent from efforts to negotiate conflict and peace processes.

The signing of the new agreement, witnessed by local authorities, pleased Deborah Schein, representing the peacekeeping mission's Field Office in Bor.

Three years ago, I would not have believed that this would be possible, she said, referring to the gathering and the positive outcome. South Sudan needs trust building. It needs more interaction, communication and understanding between people.

Source: UN Mission in South Sudan

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