• Merio Jimmy

Urgent action needed on inter communal violence: CEPO chief

Merio Jimmy, Juba

The Executive Director for the Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO), Edmund Yakani, told the South Sudan Friendship Press today that he was closely monitoring the country’s national conflict warning system. Speaking at his office in Juba, Yakani noted the need for close attention to be paid to the recent rise in deaths associated with inter-communal violence, armed criminal acts and armed cattle raiding.

‘The country have lost over 2,450 lives due to deadly inter-communal violence, armed criminal and armed cattle raiding in 2020. 80% of the lives lost were due to inter-communal violence (revenge attacks) and armed cattle raiding," Yakani said.

Edmund Yakani, CEPO Director and recipient of the 2017 Civil Rights Defender of the Year Award

He added that the region of Bahr el Ghazal— in particular Lakes state and Warrap state — took the lead with 43% of deaths, and Upper Nile Region— in particular Jongeli state— sat at 37%. Equatoria region— in particular Eastern Equatoria and Central Equatoria — accounted for 20% of deaths .

"These are percentages from documented cases only, and there many undocumented cases. CEPO narrates this trend of the inter-communal violence from 2017 to 2020 as linked to political motivation and youth access to livelihood’ The Director reported.

Yakani stated that the inter-communal violence, armed cattle raiding and other armed criminal incidents across the country constituted serious human rights violations. Despite this, both state and national governments have no clear plans for mitigation.

The militarisation of cattle raids and agricultural conflict has been increasing in recent years.

'State attempts to disarm civilians will not be responsive or effective if they do not take serious and practical steps to provide safety and protection through police that adhere to the principle of human rights and rule of law. This includes serious mediation of inter-communal violence, free from manipulation by political elites’.

‘Accurate data is available across the country, but no state entity is taking this data seriously to design a genuine response to prevent deadly inter-communal violence’ he noted.

Yakani added that the state’s failure to mitigate such pockets of violence has led to communities resorting to militia groups.

The CEPO head also informed the South Sudan Friendship Press that he is planning to organise a national roundtable meeting on 29th January in collaboration with the National Ministry of Peace Building, and the Peace and Reconciliation Commission.

The intention of the roundtable is to adopt a national conflict resolution mechanism to address the rise in violence across the country.

As we enter 2021, the CEPO urges South Sudan’s leaders to dedicate resources and attention to violence mitigation across the country. Specifically, the Director suggested enacting specific legislation criminalising individuals who fuel inter-communal conflict could be an option.

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