Improved relations between Madi community and armed forces encourage returns to Pageri

unmiss south sudan torit pageri county spla army civilians peace dialogue returnees resettling trust reconciliation july 2018

Rose Aliyaa is one of approximately 300 people who have returned to Pageri County, following a successful February peace dialogue facilitated by UNMISS.

In the abandoned town and villages of Pageri County, community members are gradually and voluntarily returning from refugee camps in Uganda and Kenya. Over 300 returnees have resettled in Pageri in recent months, after having fled the area following the crisis in 2016.

The people of Pageri have cited the occupation of cattle from the Jonglei region, and the distrustful relationship between them and the army’s Tiger battalion, as hindrances to their return.

Recently, the people of Pageri have regained confidence to return home in the wake of a February peace dialogue held between the armed government forces and the Madi community, facilitated by the UN Peacekeeping Mission and the Torit State Peace Commission. The resolutions agreed upon served as a first step to mending their relationship and rebuilding trust.

Several months later, families feel a sense of relief from the improved relations, and as a result some of them have begun filtering back to their homes.

Rose Aliyaa, a mother and head of family in Pageri, is one of the many who have returned.

“I took a hard decision to come back because of how we were treated there [in the refugee camps]. We have come to our country, we want to live here,” Aliyaa says.

Mathew Ezaru, executive director and acting Commissioner of Pageri County, says the civil-military dialogue has fostered a peaceful co-existence between the armed forces and the Madi community.

“People are returning to Pageri, Opari, Mugali and Molli, the Tiger Battalion and the community are at peace, no reports of insecurity on the Nimule-Juba road, no presence of armed pastoralist and cattle owners, the governor has ordered them to be removed, and the UNMISS-mediated dialogue has encouraged our community to come back”, says Ezaru.

UNMISS will continue to support the reconciliation process and build confidence to encourage returnees to repopulate Pageri.