November 13, 2012 (JUBA) – More than 200 youths from Unity, Warrap and Lakes state attended a peace initiative with the theme “join us in peace building and development,” with South Sudan’s vice president, Riek Machar Teny, UN agencies and other agencies.
The three states have a long history of cattle rustling. It is hoped negotiations will lead to a cessation of hostilities and future development.
Warrap, Unity and Lakes states Youth for Peace, Reconciliation and Development (WULSYRD) is a programme implemented by youths from the states working towards bring the conflict to an end.
WULSYRD chairperson, Santino Akot Abiem told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday that the governments of the three states need to unite their youths in nation building through peace dialogue in order to achieve lasting development.
“Helping us to mobilise and resolve their traditional communal conflicts would be a positive step to achieve peace and development in the three states, to improve security,” said Abiem.
Machar, who was the guest of honour, welcomed the positive move by the youths from the three states.
He advised youths in urban areas and intellectuals to stop warmongering on the internet, and encouraged them to continue to focus upon there studies.
Machar urged authorities from the three states to act as agents of transformation for communities by visiting one another’s regions, in order to quell tribalism.
He urged members of parliament and commissioners of the bordering counties to build strong relationships.
The UN special representative to South Sudan Hilde F. Johnson urged communities from Lake, Unity and Warrap that the “United Nation Mission in South Sudan shall work together with you in support of all processes, reminding participants that action and reconciliation is more important [than mere talk].”
In the peace dialogue, Unity state minister of animals resources and fisheries, Mariam Mut Tutroal; Warrap state minister for agriculture and forestry, Majok Bol Kur Warap; and Lakes state minister for animal resources and fisheries, Benjamin Laat Mathou, urged the youth to continue their efforts towards peace and to promise their states that they are prepared to accept the results of actions.
Several talks addressed by officials from the neighbouring Lake, Unity and Warrap have taken place since heavy fighting broke out in September 2011 in which 76 were killed in Warrap and 46 people in Unity in cattle-raiding revenge attacks.
The recent peace dialogue in Juba has brought hope to some the youths involved. The first such meeting was held in 1999. The Wunlit conference brought together youths, the political leadership and chiefs.