United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has held a successful two-day youth forum on reconciliation and trauma healing in Malakal area. The training brought together the participants and different skills were learned in the reconciliation training to better the relationships within respective communities.
However, with the signing of the Revitalized Peace Agreement in 2018, South Sudan ushered in a new era of hope after the devastation wrought by civil wars that claimed nearly 400,000 live.
Today, 10 years after it gained independence from its northern neighbor, Sudan, the world’s newest country stands on the cusp of becoming a true democracy as it begins drafting a permanent constitution and preparing for historic elections.
Despite the ongoing subnational violence, lack of development and the need for young people to be economically empowered has ensured that the scars of past wars remain unhealed.
Focusing on the innate power of youth to become agents of positive social transformation, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) recently collaborated with the state Ministry of Youth, Culture and Sports in the Upper Nile region to host a two-day forum on reconciliation and trauma healing for 80 young people in Malakal.
The aim of the workshop was to bring youth together to deliberate on issues of the reconciliation, causes of trauma and the way forward in fostering peaceful co-existence among themselves.
With regard t participant experience with the devastating war, many of them were children when conflict erupted in the country. According to participants. They have heard gunfire, lost family members and have been displaced from their homes.
For now, there is a lot the war has brought in the past 10 years that has to be forgotten and forgiven. Through attending workshop like this and having a safe space to discuss issues and matters concerning the youth community, the traumas and hopes with other young people is such a positive first step.
According to Rasmal Amum, one of the participants in the workshop, the priority is forging relationships of trust and confidence among displaced youth residing in the UN Protection Site and youth groups who belong to Malakal town.
Young people are the backbone of South Sudan and should leave domestic strife behind and come together to work towards developing the young nation. Peace and development are two sides of the same coin.
Another important issue discussed at the forum was eschewing cultural practices such as early or forced marriages among underage girls.
The participants noted that to build a strong South Sudan, girls and boys, women and men, must be educated equally and have the same opportunities to offer competitive development opportunities for the young nation.
Khamis Mayom, Director-General of the Ministry of Youth, Culture and Sport, the most important thing is for young people to become ambassadors of peace.
According to Khamis, all young people should build relationships with one another and not break them down. There is power in youth and there is power in togetherness. He further confided hope that all the youths who participated in the two-day workshop will take this message to their communities and promote peace and justice for all.
Furthermore, Jimmy Okumu, a Civil Affairs Officer with the UN Peacekeeping mission, said that he felt richly rewarded seeing the high turnout of young women at the workshop.
In his submission, Women constitute 50 per cent of any society and in South Sudan, as we all know, 70 per cent of the population is under 30 years of age. Seeing so many young women participate in this forum with spirit and determination to contribute to their communities is very gratifying and a sign of good developmental progress.
The Upper Nile state is one of the most affected areas in South Sudan since the outbreak of the civil war in 2013, which tore apart the social fabric here. Peace and reconciliation, especially among the younger generation, is therefore key for establishing a durable peace here.
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