“We Want The RARCSS Signatories to Speak To Us,” Rhino Camp Refugees Demand.

Refugees’ leaders and organizations who gathered from various settlements for a community dialogue at the Refugee Welfare Council centre in Odobu, one of the zones in the Settlements, demanded to be assured by the main peace stakeholders, especially the party leaders, of their safety if they go home.

Peter Gatkuoth, a zone leader asked the organizers to invite the leaders of their country, particularly the ones who signed the Revitalized Agreement for the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (RARCSS) to come and address them on the agreement. He told Jon Pen de Ngong, the main discussant on the RARCSS to answer some of their questions or pass them on the the concerned parties.

“We want to be assured of the commitment of our leaders on the implementation of this agreement by the leaders themselves, not you our fellow refugees.”

Another speaker reiterated this demand by requesting the Network of South SSudanese Civilety Organizations in Uganda (NOSSCOU) and Youth Social Advocacy for Transformation (YSAT), the organizers of the community event, to liaise with the top peace stakeholders for a dialogue with refugees in Uganda. The refugee community leaders express serious doubt in the commitment of the leaders to the peace agreement, sighting previous violations and the ongoing fighting between the government and the hold-out groups.

Saida, a deputy RWC leader, clutching breastfeeding child, challenged the presenter to prove the viability of this peace while the conflict is raging on in her village, referring to the fighting around Yei River State between NAS and SSPDF forces.

“How sincere are you people to preach about a beautiful peace in this document while the actual war is going on in my village? Are you luring us back to the death trap again or what do you mean?” She asked.

While the peace is going on in the Settlements around northern Uganda and West Nile, refugees are pointing out the daily influx of new arrivals from the very villages they are being told to be repatriated to.

In a song performed by women and girls from Kakwa Traditional Dancers, the women are asking “Museveni to talk to Salva that we women are ready to go back to our homes”, but on condition that they’re free from rape, killing and violence. In a video recorded by NoSSCO Information Secretariat, the dancers have posted a character in military uniform who keeps pulling young girls out of the line and descending on them with a long knife symbolizing throat-slitting or threat into raping.

Samuel Albino Simon, one of the community elders and Refugee Welfare Council leaders emphasized the need to have the RARCSS handbook distributed to help them explain the agreement to their communities. He also made a serious observation of the missing signatures of top world bodies, guarantors, and witnesses like TROIKA, AU, China, among others.

Many speakers during the day that kicked off with the Community Dialogue theme, “Building a shared South Sudan Identity”, asked repeatedly the reasons why Gen. Thomas Cirillo and other armed group that have signed the agreement are being ignored as they engaged in fighting instead of talking.

The workshop participants also expressed concerns that their voices do not reach the concerned parties of the agreement and world leaders on the conditions they are in and the threat of war back home.

The youth speakers demanded to know about the huge confusion on the funding of the implementation of the agreement, and where the refugees fall in terms of facilitation back home. The facilitators addressed most of these questions in accordance with the RARCSS booklet.

The community leaders appreciated the facilitation offered by Konrad Adenaur Stifftung (KAS), a German foundation helping South Sudanese and Ugandans on civic education on peace and other aspects of the nation building.

***

From NOSSCOU Information Secretariat,
Kampala, Uganda.

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