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Monday
Apr062015

SOUTH SUDAN/UGANDA Border Conflict: Turning Enemies into Neighbours

Faidah Dede Obombasa and Irene Dawa, Director and ED of CIPAD, respectively; with Lee following training in South Sudan 2011Promoting Peaceful Co-existence Between Host and Refugee Communities

With the outbreak of civil war in South Sudan in December of 2013 marked by atrocities on both sides of the Nuer-Dinka conflict, CIPAD Uganda has been engaging host communities and the newly-arrived refugees in dialogue and mediation designed to reduce violence and de-escalate the tensions.

The already volatile situation escalated with an outbreak of violent conflict that ended with 50 people dead and many properties destroyed due to land disputes between communities in the Moyo District of Uganda and Kajo-Keji County of South Sudan.

Despite the 'diplomatic and policing interventions by the two governments, the victims and survivors of this violence continue to be exposed to revenge, vengeance, mob justice, hooliganism, and other unlawful acts'. CIPAD intervened with trainings and community meetings aimed at promoting peaceful co-existence. They have already conducted six trainings and have requested support from Partera.  In October, we will be joining CIPAD staff in 'engaging the conflicting communities through community-led initiatives will facilitate safe processes of dialogue and community discussion fora. This will allow them to identify and discuss potential conflict trigger points, to adopt peaceful coping mechanisms to managing feelings and, resolve disputes peacefully though non-violent means.'

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Peaceful Co-existence
by CIPAD

'West Nile is geographically located on the North West corner of Uganda. It boarders South Sudan to the North and The Democratic Republic of Congo to the East. This is a multi-ethnic region made up of four groups that include: the Lugbara, Alur, Kakwa, Madi. Any political instability within The Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan has direct impact on the region. The multi-ethnic character is both a strength and a breeding-ground for conflict.

'Historically, West Nile has been a disadvantaged region that has lagged behind developments that would improve the standard of living of her citizens. For over 20 years it was cut off from the rest of Uganda due to the Lord Resistance Army insurgency in Northern Uganda and the Uganda National People’s liberation front (UNRFII) that ended with the signing of peace treaty between UNRF II and Government of Uganda in 2002 which majorly affected the districts of Yumbe, koboko Arua and Moyo.  From early 1990s till late 2000, west Nile was a home to thousands of South Sudanese refugees. After the signing of the comprehensive peace agreement between Sudan and South Sudan, most of the refugees returned to their country. However, as of now, West Nile's refugee population rose precipitously following the recent escalation of conflicts in both the DRC and South Sudan. UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told journalists in Geneva that some 78,000 people had fled to neighbouring countries since mid-December 2012. More than half have headed for Uganda's West Nile region straddling South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In all, 42,654 refugees, mostly women and children, from Nimule in South Sudan, are now in the Ugandan districts of Arua, Adjumani and Kiryandongo," Edwards said. West Nile suffers constant influx of refugees because of its location bordering Congo and South Sudan. [3]

The Problem

'Due to its history of frequent refugee influx and its location at the border, West Nile suffers from constant conflict. In September this 2014, there was an outbreak of violent conflict in which over 50 people were killed and properties were destroyed over land disputes between communities in the Moyo District of Uganda and Kajo-Keji County of South Sudan. Despite the diplomatic and policing interventions by the two governments, the victims and survivors of this violence continue to be exposed to revenge, vengeance, mob justice, hooliganism, and other unlawful acts.

Justification for intervention

'Co-existence between host and refugee communities in Uganda requires non-violent means to resolving community disputes. Engaging the conflicting communities through community-led initiatives will facilitate safe processes of dialogue and community discussion fora. This will allow them identify and discuss potential conflict trigger points, adopt peaceful coping mechanisms to managing feelings and communication and resolve disputes peacefully though non-violence means.

Project Goal and Objective

'The overarching goal of this project is to prevent violence among the refugees and host communities in West Nile region of Uganda.

'Specific objective of this project is to enhance the capacities of refugee and host communities to manage and respond to social and economic shocks.

Key activities, envisaged results indicators and targeted groups

Key activities

  1. Training on non-violent approaches to conflict resolution
  2. Creating community-led fora for dialogue
  3. Conducting dialogue sessions
  4. Home and site visits
  5. Awareness creation

Result Indicators

  1. Community platforms for dialogues between refugee and host communities are in place
  2. The number of communities with active peaceful mechanisms for conflict resolutions
  3. Incidences of violence involving refugees and host community members are significantly reduced

Target groups

This project will target three groups;

  1. First, the refugees and the host community leaders represented by the Youth, Students, women groups/organizations, religious and traditional leaders (chiefs);
  2. Secondly, local government officials;
  3. Thirdly security personnel at the border areas and refugee camps protecting the refuges

 Geographic Coverage

The project will target the eight districts of West Nile region.

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[3] http://www.unhcr.org/52d516da6.html