“Peace is not what’s written on paper. Peace is what’s happening today in this room. Peace is the food we eat. Peace is in our walk and our talk.”
The firmness and determination in the voice of the UN mission’s representative in Malakal Hazel De Wet, is met with a thunderous applause from the delegates gathered in the iron-sheet hall, where the region’s Governors and military commanders are deliberating.
When the applause dies down and the whistling of the ceiling fans signals the attentiveness of all present, Ms De Wet continues.
“I want us all here, in the next three days, to prepare a commitment to the people of the Upper Nile, that from now on we look forward to having real peace.”
After months of painstaking preparation and coordination, eight governors from across the divide as well as their deputies, their senior military commanders and government officials are in Malakal to breakdown the recently signed revitalized peace agreement and make it relevant for Upper Nile – an otherwise volatile region in northern South Sudan.
Top among discussions is the return of internally displaced persons to their places of origin - many of whom are living in the UN’s protection site in Malakal. However, the leaders are also discussing return of refugees, agricultural productivity to curb famine, freedom of movement and continued commitment to the agreement signed by their leaders.
In a nutshell, the leaders are asking “Why don’t we all just get along?”
National Pre-Transitional Committee chair Peter Mayongdit identified Upper Nile as a unique region and applauded the gathering of its leaders.
“I do feel that this peace agreement has greatly favored all of you and the situation in Upper Nile and I’m very proud to be here today to see it translated into a tangible agreement by all the representatives of the various states in this region.”
The host area’s governor James Torr Munybuny reminded those present that the forum was meant for confidence and trust building.
‘We are the guardians of peace in our regions. We have to open up roads to enable our people to move freely and go back to their places of origin. We have to create a conducive environment for them to live where they want to live.”
The UN mission has continued to support key players in the peace process in the execution of their duties, contributing positively towards its drive to build durable peace in the country.
12 delegates representing each of the 8 administrative areas in the Upper Nile region are attending the 3-day conference which, though supported by UNMISS, is facilitated by the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (JMEC), the National Pre-Transitional Committee (NPTC), the Joint Military Ceasefire Commission (JMCC) and the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM)