South Sudan: Luacjang and Pakam communities sign cessation of hostilities agreement in Tonj

South Sudan: Luacjang and Pakam communities sign cessation of hostilities agreement in Tonj

South Sudan: Luacjang and Pakam communities sign cessation of hostilities agreement in Tonj

South Sudan: Luacjang and Pakam communities sign cessation of hostilities agreement in Tonj

A cessation of hostilities agreement between warring ethnic groups in Tonj, Warrap State, and Rumbek North, Lakes State, is hoped to be the first step towards dialogue and a more comprehensive commitment on both parties to solving their differences amicably, thus saving lives.

Disputes over grazing lands, cattle-raiding attacks, revenge killings, a proliferation of guns in the hands of civilians and hate speech have all contributed to a serious of violent clashes between the two neighbouring communities of the Luacjang in Tonj East and the Pakam in Rumbek North.

According to local authorities, since February 2023, more than 150 people have lost their lives in fighting between the feuding communities. Recently, at a peace conference in Tonj, they came to an agreement of sorts.

“We are willing to share the disputed grazing area, but we will not compromise when it comes to who owns the land. Any disagreements we have should be resolved legally, in court, rather than violently,” stated Manyiel Lieny Wol, Pakam Paramount Chief.

On his part, Agok Aguer Adel, Executive Chief of the Luacjang community, considered the security situation in the contested area “volatile” due to persistent cattle raiding and revenge attacks.

“We don’t think we are occupying anybody’s land, but in the spirit of peace, we are willing to peacefully resolve any land dispute,” he stressed.

A document outlining key root causes of the conflict, with both sides committing to ending all violence, was eventually signed at the conference.

“They agreed on a cessation of hostilities pact until a future conference is convened. I strongly believe that a comprehensive agreement related to managing borders and resources will be reached next time they meet,” claimed Poth Madit Dut, Deputy Governor of Lakes State and moderator at the Tonj dialogue.

Two other and potentially violence-inducing issues that will need to be dealt with are the abundance of weapons and the frequent practice of hate speech.

“Guns are everywhere, and offensive statements provoke young people to get involved in armed conflict. This has to stop,” declared Mary Adol Biet, a mother who is often worried about her children.

The peace conference, organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and partner organizations, concluded with the recommendation to resolve all pending contentious issues before the cattle migration season.

The event concluded with recommendations to effortlessly resolve the source of dispute before the cattle migration season resumes to avoid cattle-keepers travelling in search of grazing land and access to water for their stock.

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