6 May 2011 - To bolster reconciliation and conflict mitigation efforts and rebuild confidence among communities hard hit by rising levels of violence in recent weeks, UNMIS Civil Affairs division hosted a meeting of the Peace Actors Forum today in the Upper Nile State capital of Malakal.
Established in 2009 to promote dialogue and non-violent ways of resolving disputes among the state's communities, the forum is chaired by the Southern Sudan Peace Commission and includes representatives from the State Council of Elders, the Dolieb Hill and Abwong Presbyterian Peace Committees, PACT Sudan and the Sudan Council of Churches.
Since late January, Upper Nile State has been rocked by chronic insecurity and deadly conflicts that have killed hundreds and displaced many thousands more.
"I appreciate the role played by the churches' leaders for their support of reconciliation among the people," UNMIS Civil Affairs Officer Abdul Rahman Kamara told meeting participants.
Ezekiel Kotjok of the Dolieb Hill and Abwong Presbyterians Peace Committees called for a major peace conference to be held in the state before 9 July when the country's 10 southern states become the world's newest sovereign nation.
"Without peace among the communities, there will be no development at all and the independence of the new state will not be meaningful," said Mr. Kotjok.
Monitor Officer Tut Pech of the Southern Sudan Peace Commission said the panel endorsed the proposal to conduct such a peace conference but lacked the funds needed to stage the event.
"We wanted to conduct a peace conference after the referendum, but we did not get money from partners who promised to sponsor our activities in the state," said Mr. Pech.
State Governor Simon Kun Puoch hosted a one-day security planning workshop in late March that recommended civilian disarmament campaigns, the demarcation of state borders, the provision of food security and the deployment of police officers to better ensure peace and security.