By Kidega Livingstone
The State Government has agreed to change Yei River State to one of the model States among the 32 states in the country in terms of cooperation.
“We want Yei to be a model state in co-operating as well as in improving partnership with the UN peacekeepers to help serve our people better and improve our overall image as a peace-loving government,” said Jacob Aligo, Minister of Physical Infrastructure in the state during a workshop organized for a wide spectrum of senior government officials in Yei River state yesterday.
Emmanuel Adil Anthony, Governor of Yei River state urged the Mission to have policy briefings with the state regularly to help the duo cope with periodic changes in the UN mandate and vice versa.
“You are working in the service of humanity for our people, and we are appreciative of contributing to such efforts,” said Governor Adil.
The Speaker of Yei River area’s Transitional Legislative Assembly, Natale Hassan Gale had an earnest appeal to both his government and the United Nations to work hand in hand for development in the State.
“Upholding the needs of each other and those of our population is vital to attaining peace and improving the livelihoods of our citizens. Stabilizing the entire state would however require the Mission to reach out to the other rival forces as well,” said Hassan.
Ibukunolu Alao Babajide, the UN Mission’s Senior Legal Advisor said the government’s enhanced recommitment to the agreement would enable the UN to deliver on its obligations to protect civilians, provide the ground necessary for relief aid to reach the needy, as well as help identify perpetrators of human rights violations.
“SOFA violations obstruct and divert us from doing our job, limit our ability to effectively conduct patrols and cause cost overruns which limit funds mandated for other activities. They also result in a negative perception of your country in the eyes of the International Community,” Mr. Babajide told the high-level workshop participants.
Geetha Pious, UNMISS Head of Field Office in the Central Equatoria region said that the people of Yei often yearned for peace instead of food because the state has enough fertile land to produce sufficient food to eat when peace is finally achieved.
“Peace entails restoring to the people the human dignity necessary by observing all the fundamental human rights, and we hope that perpetrators of gross human rights violations will one day be brought to justice once peace returns,” Miss. Pious said.
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has called for continued collaboration between the Yei River area government authorities and the Mission, to meet the citizens’ aspirations for durable peace in the area, and to create an atmosphere needed for building mutual trust, partnership and working in harmony.
The document allows for free and unhindered movement of all UNMISS personnel and accompanying assets within the territories of the world’s youngest nation without travel permit levies, prior authorization or any kinds of payments whether in monetary terms or otherwise.
The workshop brought together 68 participants, including ministers, legislators, state advisors, National Security officials and senior army officials of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army.