Community dialogue central to ending abduction – UNHCR

Community dialogue central to ending abduction – UNHCR

The head of mission of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in South Sudan has said community dialogue is key to ending the abduction of women and children in Greater Jonglei.

Speaking at an event of UNHCR, the agency’s country director Arafat Jamal said the initiative is to prevent female and child abductions as well as aiding the successful reintegration.

The high-level dialogue is an initiative of the South Sudan Multi-Partner Trust Fund for Reconciliation, Stabilisation, and Resilience (RSRTF) launched jointly by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and United Nations Country Team (UNCT) in 2018.

As a consortium member, the main activities under the RSRTF project include convening high-level events or dialogue aimed at advocating for an end to the abduction of women and children, as well as raising awareness on matters related to their mobilization, unconditional reunification, and reintegration.

The project which brings youth, women, chiefs, and local authorities together is aimed at building trust and cementing peace for all communities in Jonglei State according to Jamal.

This week’s dialogue comes following a similar engagement in Peiri and Pibor earlier this year.

Mr. Jamal commended the delegates on the decision to establish committees on tracing abductees in each county, noting that everyone has a role to play to end the abhorrent abduction of women and children in the state.

“I am encouraged not only by the depth of discussions which took place this week but also the decisions taken,” Jamal said.

According to him, some 100 women and children have been traced and reunited with their families under this joint project so far.

“This shows the commitment of community leaders from Twic East, Bor South, and Duc to end the cycles of violence in Jonglei and greater Pibor Administrative area,” he commended.

Jamal further said RSRTF partners will continue to work with the community to end the cycles of violence in Jonglei and the Greater Pibor Administrative Area.

“Bringing an end to a practice which destroys lives, will only happen if communities take charge and lead the dialogues on the ground, just like we are doing today,” he said.

He urged community leaders to take bold steps and continue to dig deep and work together to release and return abductees to their families.

“The subsequent release and return of abductees will send a powerful message to the international community that the people of Jonglei are working toward cementing peace for communities,” Jamal stressed.

He said that peace is a precondition for development and by cementing, there are assured investment opportunities. However, the UNHCR chief stressed the need to do more to avoid at all costs a return to weapons through dialogue.

Over years, there have been reports on abduction among armed youth from Pibor and Jonglei state in which both sides have traded accusations against each other.

On April 2, 2021, 58 women and children who were abducted in 2020 during cruel inter-communal fighting in Jonglei State were reunited with their families.

This came as a result of a community-led agreement between the Lou Nuer, Murle, and Dinka Bor ethnic communities following intensive efforts to broker peace between the three communities by UNMISS.

At a recent peace conference in Pieri, traditional leaders, women, youth and cattle camp leaders discussed compensation for lives lost and the return of abducted women and children.