Community dialogue contributes to peaceful co-existence in Abyei
In Majak County of Abyei Area, Santino Daho like many other young people in his age has spent most of his youth in an environment of instability and violence.
“Our parents have lived with conflict for many years and now passing it on to my generation. I do not see the future getting better. I do not have the necessary education and am not really planning for tomorrow,” Santino says. His voice is laced with resignation as he explained the limited educational and employment opportunities available for young people in his community.
Santino was a recent participant in an initiative designed to engage Dinka and Misseriya tribes in community dialogue. Relations between the two tribes in Abyei have deteriorated significantly following the signing of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
The communal nature of the dispute has caused both Misseriya and Dinka Ngok communities to suffer from the effects of the prolonged conflict. Therefore, lasting peace in the disputed area could only be achieved through dialogue, consultations, and confidence building.
With the support of UNDP-IOM Joint Conflict Reduction Programme (JCRP), the initiative represents a series of intra-community dialogues among the Misseriya and Dinka Ngok tribes. Piloted in July 2012, the dialogues engaged members of both tribes separately to articulate each community’s vision for the future and identify actions necessary to achieve this vision.
Recognizing that youth can play a vital role in peace and development, JCRP worked closely with community leaders in identifying 114 youth, 122 women and 62 elders to participate in the dialogues recently conducted in Majak County. In these series of dialogue that kicked off recently and over a period of three days, participants discussed perceived threats and opportunities for the future. This was the first time the community dialogue targeted women and youth.
“Bringing us together to talk about the future is important for us, it shows that there is a chance, there is hope to take us out of this darkness and look forward,” says Santino.
“This is the first time we get a chance to talk about our own issues together. This dialogue should continue and we hope it will lead us to meet the Misseriya side as well, “adds another community participant.
“Peace means a lot to me,” says Alich, Achuel, a young woman who lost her husband in the conflict. “Due to lack of peace, I lost my husband and now I am the sole breadwinner. I am struggling to raise my kids. We do not want war.”
Potential for violence remains high in Abyei, given the uncertainty of the status of the area and the ongoing tense relationship between Sudan and South Sudan. These series of dialogue provide an important outlet for communities to come together to discuss what a stable and common future could look like for them and their families.