AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - To overcome divisions to invest in peace

Juba - "We are never defined by our past but our present, as no matter ‎how hard the past, you can always start again. We wish to forget the wounds of the past and ‎move ahead towards peace", said Mgr. Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala, Bishop of Tombura-Yambio, in his speech at the Interstate Governors' Strategic Intervention Conference for Peace, entitled "Peace within and across the borders". The Conference, which was held in Yambio from 27 to 30 November, was organized by the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Committee , in collaboration with the Interfaith Council for Peace Initiative, the body the Catholic Church belongs to, in order to promote peace. JMEC is responsible for monitoring and supervising the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan, ARCSS, signed in 2015, under the auspices of the IGAD .
Despite the peace agreement, the South Sudanese civil war continues. As Mgr. Kussala says, South Sudan "is a blessed land. It is resourcefully rich ‎above the ground and below the ground. God and nature have given us enough to make all of ‎us rich and prosperous". "But despite all these blessings we have a wounded history" continues Mgr. Kussala. South Sudan was born in 2011 after decades of civil war against the Sudanese regime. After the separation from Khartoum, in December 2013 the civil conflict broke out between President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar, which resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and millions of internally displaced persons and refugees abroad.
The conflict immediately assumed an ethnic dimension, a fact that Mgr. Kussala also explains in the light of the rapid global transformations: "Because there is so much uncertainty in the world right now, because things are changing so fast, there is a temptation to forge identities, tribal identities that give you a sense of certainty, a buffer against change".
For this reason, according to the Bishop, we need to focus on young people, by giving them better education and quality professional formation. It is also necessary that the States of the South Sudanese Federation create common economic projects and cross-border peace initiatives.
"Invest in hope, invest in peace. Peace is possible because it is the only way", concluded Mgr. Kussala.