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The Deputy Head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) for humanitarian affairs and 50 high-level delegates from the international donor community have been in Wau to assess the humanitarian situation in the area.
The one-day forum, which brought together area government officials and the opposition, discussed issues of recovery and resilience in the area after the 2016 crisis that led to the influx of civilians into the United Nations protection of civilians cites.
“Our people have suffered enough. This is the time to reclaim the past glory of Wau state,’’ read the joint statement from the state government and the opposition.
Governor Angelo Taban Biajo of Wau noted that since the silencing of the guns in the area, a lot was needed to put to together available resources to develop the area infrastructure.
“We need to work hard to grow our own food, take our children to school, provide livelihood opportunities for our youth and women, and reclaim our position as a developed hub of Bahr El Ghazal region,” said Governor Taban.
The governor told the visiting delegates that the local government structures had been weakened and destroyed during the conflict. He also noted that the only way to develop is to implement the revitalized peace agreement that brought them together, and that they were committed to implement it and support their leaders at the top in realizing total peace in the whole country.
Since the signing of the peace agreement there has been a lot of progress in Wau, with almost 60% of the people who are in displaced people’s camps starting to return home.
Alain Noudéhou, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, who led the delegation to Wau, said the vision of the area presented during the discussion was in light with the partnership for recovery and resilience.
The deputy head of UNMISS told the peace partners that the importance of recovery and resilience would only be realised if they put their differences aside and worked for the good of the citizens.
‘’You have this kind of discussion now to try to develop a vision for where you want to go as a state and as a community; a resilient state that embraces inclusivity, peaceful coexistence, sustainable development and equal opportunity for all,’’ stated the deputy head of UNMISS and UN Resident Humanitarian Coordinator.
Accompanying Mr. Noudéhou was the head of the European Union (EU) in South Sudan, Ms. Sinead Walsh, and other European country representatives from the Netherlands, Norway and Germany.
‘’We are delighted to be in this joint forum in Wau state, an area that is historically known for peaceful coexistence, and it is wonderful to see representatives of the opposition here,’’ said the head of the EU delegation, Sinead Walsh.
Ms. Walsh was impressed by the initiatives the Wau area government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition (SPLM/A-iO) had made, with a local arrangement to sign their own peace accord.
‘’Today, we normally say that all politics are local, and we can say that the peace process is also local. And what you are doing here in Wau, I think it could be an example for the rest of the country,” the head of the EU emphasized.
Ms. Walsh told the forum that the plans of recovery and resilience would be presented to the European Union office in Juba for deliberation and incorporation in their yearly plans for consideration.
Sam Muhumure, the UNMISS head of field office in Wau said the day’s gathering was proof of how much things had changed.
‘’Ten months ago, we would never have gathered to discuss anything to do with resilience and recovery. We would be sitting to discuss where people are fighting, which people have been displaced, and in which location,’’ recalled Mr. Muhumure.
In late 2018, the Wau area government and the SPLM-iO started their own initiatives to dialogue, and signed a peace agreement to stop fighting and allow humanitarian organizations to deliver aid to areas that were badly affected by the war. In the peace accord, the warring partners agreed to allow civilians to cross on both sides, and to remove checkpoints along key routes in Wau.