The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), together with local authorities in the country recently held a concert in Yei, to promote peace and reconciliation among communities in the town.
Residents gathered in large numbers to enjoy performances by various artists and celebrate the relative peace that’s been seen in the country lately.
A peace deal signed last year by President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar – the former vice president – has reduced fighting, but could break down over several disputes, the Brussels-based International Crisis Group said in a report in March.
“Now that we are experiencing peace, I feel happy because now my children can go to school and I will be happy. There is no fear to walk at night. Now I can go to Juba, Yei, or Khartoum. I am very happy with this peace,” said Saliwa Sulieman, a Yei resident.
Popular South Sudanese artist Emmanuel Kembe, one of the main acts at the event, performed songs touching on patriotism, peace and reconstruction of the country.
“Peace is not something that we just sing and talk about. It is not something that we wish, but it is something that we work for. So, with the development that’s happening in Yei right now is really giving us a sign that our people are ready for peace no less than that,” said Kembe.
The United Nations has been conducting a series of peace events in Yei town as part of efforts to prevent conflict.
About 400,000 people have been killed, and more than a third of the country’s 12 million people uprooted by a five-year civil war – a conflict punctuated by multiple rounds of mediation followed by renewed bloodshed.
“As our commitment to peace the government of Yei River State will do everything within its power to ensure that a prevailing peaceful situation is proved and consolidated at all costs,” said Yousto Baba, the Yei deputy governor.
The landlocked, oil-producing country split away from Sudan in 2011 after decades of fighting, then collapsed into its own civil war.