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Civil-military dialogue calls for forgiveness, reconciliation in Yei

August 20, 2023 – RWONYI – There is need for forgiveness and reconciliation between civilians and the military, participants at a civil-military dialogue in Rwonyi Boma of Yei River County in South Sudan’s Central Equatoria State said.

At least 75 people, including community leaders, women, youth, chiefs, religious leaders and the government army (SSPDF) attended the dialogue organized by Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) from August 16-18.

The dialogue came in the wake of concerns from community members, including the poor cooperation between civilians and the military, presence of military affiliated cattle, illegal checkpoints and road blocks that affected movement.

Malish John Scopas, CEPO’s field manager for the Greater Yei, said the civil-military dialogue sought to strengthen the cooperation between civilians and military in order to minimize incidences of unknown criminals in the Rwonyi Boma.

“The dialogue aimed at building trust and confidence through reconciliation to restore peaceful coexistence, acceptance, tolerance and social cohesion between civilians and the military in Rwonyi Boma of Yei River County,” he said.

Malish said the killing of the civilians, cattle raids, deforestation, destruction of houses and the looting of properties were some of the major issues that emerged.

He said participants came up with 21 resolutions for immediate implementation.

Rtd. Rt.Rev. Hillary Luate Adeba, the Bishop Emeritus, ECSS Diocese of Yei stressed the need for continuous dialogue between the civilian population and the army in South Sudan to re-establish the trust that seems to have been lost over the years.

“Dialogue is very important in bringing peace between soldiers and civilians,” he explained, adding “This dialogue should rebuild hope and trust among the civilians and the army for peaceful co-existence in Yei River County at large”.

Authorities were also urged to facilitate the safe return of refugees to their homes.

Meanwhile, the area SSPDF commander, Major Mayen Magang said it is the mandate of the army to protect the civilian population as well as their properties.

“You have to have confidence that the SSPDF is here for your protection. It is our mandate to protect you, your property as well as our country,” he remarked.

Mayen emphasized the importance of harmony between the army and civilians.

Following the escalation of conflict in 2016, the situation in Yei River County changed significantly, due to the sustained presence of armed rebel groups in the area and neighbouring counties. This led to significant displacement within the county and across international borders, primarily to neighbouring Uganda.

Led by the United Nations migration agency (IOM) with support from the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), the Reconciliation, Stabilization and Resilience Trust Fund  (RSRTF) project is designed to help communities in Yei, Lainya, Morobo and Kajo-Keji counties of Central Equatoria State reconcile and end violence, bring stability where they live and create incentives for peaceful coexistence.

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