More than 30 local chiefs residing in Malakal town or in the peacekeeping mission’s protection of civilians site in that Upper Nile city have learnt valuable conflict management skills and skills to promote reconciliation and social cohesion in and between their communities.
“Social cohesion is the product of a reconciliation period that can be difficult. It may involve addressing anger, a desire for justice and the suppression of sorrow and fear, not to mention the acceptance of losses. For outsiders, it may be a repetitive and tiring process, but patience and tolerance are vital,” one traditional leader said at the conclusion of the two-day workshop, organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.
By learning more about such mechanism, it is hoped that traditional leaders will become agents of peace, and better equipped to resolve minor disputes in and between communities on their own, and in an amicable way.
“Our approach when we discuss these sensitive topics is to break down conflicts and their implications in everyday life on different levels: for an individual, a family, a community or even a nation,” says Mohammed Abdi, a civil affairs officer serving with the peacekeeping mission.
“I think what we have seen and understood here is the power of healthy responses to resolve conflicts, like a readiness to forgive and move forward without resentment and anger. It works better than withholding love and engaging in rejection, isolation and shaming,” pondered a second traditional leader.
While there was a general consensus among participants that they themselves can act in positive ways that will make a difference, external and potentially conflict-inducing factors were also mentioned, not least by Deng Lual, a paramount chief in Akoka County.
“The state and national governments must speed up the appointment of a governor for Upper Nile State. Many minor differences and tensions felt in the region can be attributed to the lack of local government,” he said.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
Traditional leaders in Malakal gathered to reflect on and learn how to accomplish reconciliation and avoid conflicts.