The top United Nations official in South Sudan has urged warring ethnic communities in the country to find peaceful solutions to their disputes and to serve as an example to other groups about how to turn challenges into opportunities.
Hilde F. Johnson, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for South Sudan and the head of the UN peacekeeping force in that country (UNMISS), yesterday travelled to the town of Aweil in Northern Bahr el Ghazal state to attend the opening of a three-day peace conference between the Misseriya and Dinka Malual peoples.
The Misseriya and Dinka communities have repeatedly clashed in the past, particularly in the border areas between Sudan and South Sudan. The peace conference, organized by the United States Agency for International Development, is aimed at devising recommendations for how the communities can co-exist as neighbours.
“Don't let politics get in the way of your peace,” Ms. Johnson advised participants at the peace conference.
She said that while the absence of clear demarcated borders between Sudan and South Sudan was one of the region's key challenges, “these challenges can be turned into opportunities.”
Ms. Johnson called on ethnic communities to “make your own peace, demonstrate that soft borders can work, implement your agreement and be an example to other communities in both countries.”
The Special Representative also pledged the ongoing support of UNMISS and the broader international community, whether in logistics, transport or “quiet advice,” to any peace initiatives in the region.