14 September 2021, Pibor—Political and community leaders are gathering in Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA) for a three-day political retreat to discuss their political differences, local community conflict drivers, and strategies to address cattle raiding, age-set youth violence and child abduction, led by the GPAA Chief Administrator Hon. Lokoli Amee Bullen; Deputy Chief Administrator Hon. John Abula; Deputy Minister of Information, Communication Technology and Postal Services Hon. Baba Medan; members of the Revitalized Transitional National Legislative Assembly Hon. David Yau Yau, Hon. David Akuer, Hon. Lawuryen Ibon; member of the Council of States Hon. Kennedy Gayain; Hon Francis Lekanyang; and Hon. Judy Jonglei, all representing key constituencies needed to sustain peace.
The political retreat was supported by UNMISS Civil Affairs Division, and UNDP’s Peace and Community Cohesion project with funding from the Government of Sweden.
“We are gathered here to have peace, unity, and reconciliation in Pibor, and to stop the fighting we need this to be the outcome of this retreat. If we become one, we will move out of this retreat with one voice and ask the [community] and especially the youth to stop raiding our neigbours cattle or abduct children. To stop all negative activities, we have to become united as one,” said Chief Administrator of Greater Pibor Administrative Area Hon. Lokoli Amee Bullen during the retreat’s opening ceremony.
The Chief Administrator further emphasized the need to provide alternative livelihood for youth, through adult learning opportunities and agriculture. “We also need to get out and dialogue with the youth in different counties, to understand why they engage in these vices and how we can help them,” said Hon. Lokoli.
“The narrative of the Greater Pibor area has for too long been negative, I am extremely encouraged to hear that over the next three days there will be discussions on how to cement peace in the interest of the entire community,” said UNMISS Head of Civil Affairs Hazel De Wet.
The three-day political gathering will span 14-16 September 2021, hosted at the Kabarthe Women’s Peace Centre in Greater Pibor. UNDP, with support from the Government of Sweden, constructed the Women Peace Centre to further solidify the impact of the Kabarthe women on community cohesion and peacebuilding in Pibor. Since its launch in June 2021, the centre has become the centre for important community meetings and gatherings. The GPAA Political Retreat is the latest such convening.
“Greater Pibor is very rich [in resources] but we are not seeing these resources because of the crisis and the conflict between Murle, Nuer, Dinka, and so forth. We need peace to see the fruits of our resources in Pibor. We need to focus on the agenda and let us commit ourselves to whatever we discuss. Let us take forth the agreements of this conference. I request that the senior leadership of Greater Pibor follow the recommendations which will come up from us [during the retreat], and then the implementation they will take forth,” said Deputy Minister of Information Hon. Baba Medan Konyi.
Planned sessions over the next days include group work and presentations on addressing age-set violence, child abductions, and cattle raids. Dialogues will be held on strengthening GPAA’s social cohesion with neighboring communities.
“A society will not thrive without peace. If we can give all that we have towards peace, then we build a foundation for development. I want to encourage all of you in this retreat, to look beyond what the history has written, no matter what we’ve done to one another. Recognize that South Sudan, and Pibor specifically, can be in a place of reconciliation and peace,“ said UNDP Resident Representative Samuel G. Doe, adding UNDP’s pledge to continue fostering partnerships with communities and leaders seeking to achieve development goals.
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