Seasonal, cross-border cattle migration among the world’s newest nation South Sudan and its northern neighbour Sudan often leads to disputes and violence.
Therefore, a two-day conference on peaceful livestock migration, organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), in partnership with the state Ministry of Animal Resources and Fisheries, recently concluded in Renk, Upper Nile state.
50 participants took part in the spirited discussions, including semi-nomadic herders from Sudan and host communities from South Sudan.
Their focus: A peaceful resolution of disputes with settled farmers as livestock owners begin the annual movement.
Speaking at the forum, Umdah Abdel Baqi Ahmed Al Nour, representative of cattle herders from Sudan, emphasized the need for mutual respect in fostering peaceful coexistence among farmers and herders.
“By bringing together involved parties in both Sudan and South Sudan, this meeting has given us a common platform with which we can discuss longstanding issues and find a more peaceful way to conduct this yearly migration of cattle,” he stated.
“We can now work together and form joint working-level communities to identify challenges such as appropriate migration routes, safety and security, animal health and appropriate taxation,” he added.
For his part, Kak Padiet Kak, County Commissioner in Renk, appealed to pastoralists and host communities to collectively implement the resolutions of the conference and clearly indicate migration routes to avoid conflict.
“I urge all of you to embrace solidarity and take responsibility to disseminate and share the recently signed agreement thereby ensuring collective ownership of this yearly process,” he stated.
The agreement Mr. Kak referred to was signed last year and provides a comprehensive, locally owned blueprint for secure and safe migration of animals.
“Let this accord serve as a norm that will guide every step that you are undertaking. I encourage the community leaders from both sides to circulate this document widely in your respective locations so that people can understand its contents,” he added.
Roa Ajung from the host community, described the two-day meeting as a fruitful way point in ensuring the needs and difficulties of both farmers and herders were equally heard and addressed.
“The outputs of the session are very purposeful and we are confident that they will help greatly in spreading a culture of peace and harmony. We, as the host community, will circulate last year’s agreement and follow up on its implementation on the ground, in partnership with witnesses and joint committees,” Said Ajung.
At the end of the conference the parties declared their intent to form a joint court to resolve issues related livestock, other disputes and to establish common market to boost trade.
The event was facilitated by the UN Peacekeeping mission’s Civil Affairs Division.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).