“This is a millstone today to see that the two parties from the government and South Sudan National Liberation Movement have signed a preliminary peace agreement to end the suffering of the citizens of Western Equatoria state”, said Monsignor Eduard Hiiboro, Bishop of the diocese of Tombura-Yambio with a key mediating role, defining the signing of a peace deal yesterday in Yabio County.
The government and South Sudan National Liberation Movement (SSNLM) committed to end fighting to allow the return home and to the fields of thousands forced to flee. The SSNLM gained consensus on a local level due also to violations and abuses committed by Juba’s military. The armed wing of the movement consists in units of “arrow boys”, which are based in the bush and forests.
“We did not leave our homes to enter the bush to fight the government but to draw the attention of the government to listen to our complaints and we are not fighting any tribe”, said Victor Wanga, a commanding officer of the SSNLM who signed the agreement.
Fighting and attacks in Western Equatoria, among South Sudan’s most fertile regions, displaced tens of thousands in just few months. The violence comes in the context of a wider civil conflict between loyalist forces of President Salva Kiir and rebels linked to his former deputy Riek Machar. Two years of war has forced over 2 million people from their homes, often also across the borders into Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda.