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Gov’t launches disarmament to end inter-communal violence

By Deng Ghai Deng

 Authorities in Warrap state confirmed that they have launched a disarmament exercise in a bid to put to an end inter-communal violence.

Ring Deng Adiing, Warrap State Information Minister said that Governor Aleu Ayieny presided over the disarmament exercise to all counties. The disarmament campaign will be carried out across the state to stop ongoing inter-communal violence.

“Last year up to now the governor of Warrap State has been preaching about the disarmament and also the communities agreed to hand [over] the guns to the concerned authorities in a peaceful manner. The community leaders were asked that they should disarm the civilians in order to avail peace in the state.”  Adiing said

He added that State officials gave communities ample time to peacefully hand over their weapons to authorities but there was little response to the call. He says the forces conducting the disarmament campaign have been instructed to use force against any civilians who try to resist handing over their arms.

“I am, urging the citizens, particularly the civilians in Warrap State to give out the guns so that we remain in peace. When we say the disarmament is peaceful, it is when people voluntarily give their guns and then later on whoever is found hiding his gun that will be his case with the soldiers.” Adiing added

Meanwhile, Samuel Yai, one of the residents said he welcomes the exercise because it will help reduce rampant gun violence in the state but he says he worries about the way guns have returned to the hands of civilians after similar exercises in the past.

“In every community, you may find that each and every youth has a gun, even someone who has never gone to a military barrack. Disarmament can be conducted, yes. My question is what about after it has finished? Is it going to be the last, or will the people remain peaceful? This is not the first time that guns may come in the same channel, and when they come in the same channel later on it will also be another problem.”  Yai said

Awiirson Santino Deng, a resident of Gogrial in Warrap state, says disarming only one state or community will not restore peace because it will leave disarmed communities vulnerable to neighboring communities that remain armed. Deng says the government of South Sudan should carry out a general disarmament campaign nationwide.

“We don’t want violence we want peace. Now the people of Warrap will be disarmed, ok we agreed but we have our neighbors like the people of Northern Liec in Unity state and they have problems with us, also the people of Abyei Administrative Area. Also, the Messiria have been attacking us from Sudan. What shall we do? This is why I think the way disarmament is being done is not good and cannot bring real peace.”  Deng said

At least 80 people were killed and more than 90 others injured in 2020 when South Sudan People’s Defense Forces who were carrying out a disarmament exercise clashed with civilians who resisted the campaign in Warrap state’s Tonj East County. The South Sudan National Network on Small Arms criticized the government’s handling of the exercise, saying officials should have included plans to prevent clashes between armed youths and soldiers.

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