To commemorate the International Day of Peace, in South Sudan, the United Nations’ Funds, Programmes and Agencies, and the peacekeeping mission organized a number of events across the country, in collaboration with the National Platform for Peace and Reconciliation (NPPR) and other non-governmental organisations; alongside the launch of the 100 days of peace activism; a platform for all voices calling for peace, healing, and reconciliation to unite and send powerful messages to leaders and calling for a peaceful resolution to the current crisis.
In Juba, the official programme was held at the Nyakuron Cultural Centre, under the national theme: “Together We Can Heal the Nation” and was broadcast live on UNMISS’s Radio Miraya. It featured colourful drama, poetry and musical performances, and speeches by the Chairperson of the South Sudan Peace and Reconciliation Commission, the Speaker of Transitional National Legislative Assembly, and the reading of the Secretary-Generals’ message by Deputy Special Representative Moustapaha Soumare, who in emphasizing the significance of the day, said that ‘peace is about much more than putting weapons aside. It is about building a global society in which people live free from poverty and share the benefits of prosperity’ noting that peace meant ‘ growing together and supporting each other as a universal family’
In his additional comments, Ambassador Soumare noted that the renewed fighting in Juba in July, had been ‘a grievous setback, one which resulted in loss of life and forced scores of civilians to flee their homes’ adding that ‘as we mark today as International Day of Peace, we must have renewed hope that South Sudan can turn a new page and achieve a lasting peace. The people of South Sudan have suffered far too long, and they deserve nothing less.” The key note address at the event was delivered by James Wani Igga, Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan. The Mission, Force complement, led by British officers, and the Nepalese battalion, based at UN House, made a special donation of various essential items to a local community, close to the newly created arms free zone.
Under the global theme “The Sustainable Development Goals: Building Blocks for Peace.” a number of activities were organized in various parts of the country by UNMISS; in Western Bahar El Gazal, Upper Nile, and Western Equatoria these included football and volley ball tournaments, cultural shows, traditional dances and flag raising ceremonies, whilst in Eastern Equatoria, the Rwandan Battalion of UNMISS facilitated a “Health Care Day” for the local communities.
Led by the peacekeeping mission, in collaboration with local partners, Warrap marked the day with roundtable discussions on peace, on Kuajok FM; featuring CSOs, UN and government partners, and a tree planting ceremony at the town centre, whilst Unity State organized a debate on Peace, and a cultural show to entertain the internally displaced persons ( IDPs).
The United Nations commemorates the International Day of Peace on 21 September every year, and uses the opportunity to call on warring parties to lay down their arms and observe a 24-hour global ceasefire. The symbolism of a day without fighting is a crucial reminder that conflict can, and must come to an end.