IDPs reached with Revitalized Peace Agreement
By Jale Richard
Community members and local leaders at Mangaten Internally Displaced Persons camp, and residents from Hai Referendum, Mia Saba, Newsite in Juba have received peace messages through a public forum to disseminate content of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS).
The forum was organized by Active Citizen South Sudan, a non-governmental organization in its efforts to aware communities in the suburbs of Juba about the content of the peace deal signed in September 2018.
According to the R-ARCSS, parties to the agreement are tasked to disseminate the revitalized peace agreement through organizing peace forums and discussions. But the dissemination efforts seem to concentrate in the city center, neglecting communities in the suburbs and in most rural areas of many states.
However over the past one month, Active Citizen in partnership with the Norwegian Peoples Aid (NPA) embarked on reaching some of the localities not previously reached with peace dissemination efforts.
Members of communities in Mangaten, Hai Referendum, Jopa, Gudele and Mia Saba residential areas have been involved in forums to create awareness about what the revitalized peace agreement contains.
At Mangaten area last week, a select group of the displaced people and residents gathered at the trading center where each participant received a copy of the simplified version of the peace agreement both in English and Arabic languages.
After the training, the residents said they are committed to disseminating the peace agreement to help the people on the ground understand the peace process.
Ms. Nyiliep Dingnyang, a 20-year-old girl, is one of those who left the training well informed about the contents of the R-ARCSS.
“I came to learn some important things about the peace agreement. I have learnt that there are many things in this agreement such as how to manage resources, and how to strengthen our institutions for peace to prevail in our country,” she said after the revitalized peace agreement awareness session.
“I have learnt what the content say about transitional justice mechanisms in the peace agreement and the issues of managing the country’s resources for citizens to benefit from. If corruption is stopped, I think our country will grow,” Dingnyang added.
She said she now understands that the peace agreement contains “good news for South Sudan.”
“I am going to be able to share with my friends what I have learnt today,” Dingnyang promised.
For Bakhita Nyangwaraga, it was her first time to attend a public forum about the revitalized peace agreement.
“We learnt about the revitalized peace agreement, and it is my first time to attend training about the revitalized peace agreement. It is very important for us to know everything concerning the revitalized peace agreement,” she said.
The peace agreement tasks parties to disseminate the content of the peace deal to all communities all over the country.
As a result, some civil society organizations started programs to disseminate the peace agreement through public gatherings.
But since the R-ARCSS was signed over a year ago, some people in South Sudan do not know what it contains.
This is what Nyangwaraga is concerned about. “Since the revitalized peace agreement was signed, we never attended any training about it.”
“Now it is very important to know how to manage our resources and other important contents of the agreement that will benefit the people of South Sudan,” Nyangwaraga added.
She appealed for more awareness trainings so that every South Sudanese will be informed about the peace agreement.
Meanwhile, Biphal Riek, another participant expressed his gratitude after attending the awareness training.
“All of us are very happy to hear about peace because if there is peace in the country, everybody can work effectively. Whether you are a business man there will be no more fear about what is going to happen,” Mr. Riek said.
He recalls that during the civil war, many of them did not know whether they would be alive the next day or not.
But with the revitalized peace agreement, he says, people are now sure of their lives.
“Since I came to Managaten, I never heard about anti-corruption. In this peace agreement, I have heard of anti-corruption and the reconstruction fund for the restoration of destroyed infrastructure of the country. This is good for the people of South Sudan,” Mr. Riek said.
“I will tell them (people) whatever I understand from here for example the provisions on curbing corruption through the anti-corruption commission.”
Meanwhile Ms. Angelina Stephen-the Project Cordinator of Active Citizen said the advocacy group opted to do awareness campaigns on the content of the revitalized peace agreement because many people do not understand what the peace agreement contains.
Ms. Angelina Stephen the Project Officer at Active Citizen (Photo: Jale Richard)
“Actually most of the people are not aware of the content of the revitalized peace agreement. They don’t even have a clue what is the transitional period, they don’t event understand which parties make up the revitalized transitional government. So we are here to aware them on what the document contains,” she said.
Ms. Angelina said the participants were enlightened about all the chapters of the agreement, explaining in to detail how it works and what they expect from it.
For his part, Michael Biphal-the Executive Director of Active Citizen South Sudan emphasized the importance of the campaign.
“We felt that a lot of South Sudanese are not aware of the content of the revitalized peace agreement. Our interest is that for peace to prevail citizens have to be the stakeholders. Every individual would want to take part in the implementation of the peace agreement and to bring more hope to civilians.”
“If they know what is provided in the agreement it can help them better their lives such as repatriation back to their homes from the displaced people’s camps and refugee camps, they can make informed decisions,” he added.
Mr. Biphal noted that based on engagements with the communities, most of them are not aware of what the revitalized peace agreement contains.
“As a civil society organization, we felt that we should create awareness so that they understand the agreement’s full content so that the women and youth see themselves within the agreement,” he said.
Mr. Biphal said it is the right of the youth and women to understand the agreement in order to hold the Parties accountable.
“It is for the interest of the community to know their right within the agreement so that they can follow the implementation to letter and hold the leaders accountable. Once the young people are guaranteed peace, they can return to their villages to engage in agriculture so as to produce for the country,” he emphasized.
So far, Active Citizen conducted four sessions in various areas where many of the participants embraced the peace dissemination process.
“A lot of the participants expressed happiness and it is like for the first time we realized that not everyone has been reached by the peace agreement. The few people who know are working in the government or opposition, or people in positions but majority of the populace do not know the content of the peace agreement,” alleged Mr. Biphal.
However, Biphal said the dissemination campaigns around Juba are not enough. He called on some of the peace partners to help so that everyone is reached with the peace agreement.
He said if the unity government is formed by November as promised by the principal leaders, hope would be restored and citizens would resume their normal lives.
“We want to see that they hold together the peace, there is no firing of gun, and people go back to their normal businesses,” Biphal asserted, saying farmers can go back to farm and supply the cities with food.
“Those who want to send their children to school can do it, and we can have our roads being usable again without any attacks by bandits on the road. This is what all of us are yearning for as citizens of South Sudan,” Mr. Biphal emphasized.
Meanwhile Charles Madhol, the local chief of Mangaten IDP camp also promised to help disseminate the peace agreement.
“We will disseminate the peace agreement to our people so that they will own the agreement,” said the chief who also participated in the training.
“If this is what is going to be happening, we will actually go back to our villages and live peacefully.”
For the 19-year-old Nyawaraga, it is good for young people to be aware of the peace agreement.
“It is good for us to be aware so that we can later take part in the planned election, and we will hold accountable the leaders who signed the revitalized peace agreement,” she said.