Youth groups in Rubkona county are promoting peaceful coexistence

Jun 5, 2018

Group discussions, practical exercises, and role plays on how to deal with conflict peacefully

UNDP’s Peace and Community Cohesion (PaCC) project in partnership with the National Transformational Leadership Institute (NTLI) of the University of Juba conducted two three-day induction trainings for youth peace champions in the Bentiu PoC site as well as for youth from Bentiu and Rubkona towns. The two trainings were held concurrently and focused on skills building in the areas of leadership, peacebuilding and the prevention of gender based violence.

The trainings of the youth groups are part of a joint one-year project funded by the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) to create conditions for peaceful coexistence between youth internally displaced persons, returnees and host communities. The activities aim to create safe spaces for peaceful exchange between the youth and to provide alternative livelihood options. The activities are being jointly implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in partnership with a number of local civil society organizations.

Youth engagement is an important element of peacebuilding. Economic and social opportunities for the youth in the PoC and in Bentiu and Rubkona towns are limited, and some of the youth tend to engage in criminal activities due to idleness. “When youth are not engaged they will be involved in cattle raid and gang activities. Engaging youth is preventing criminal activities from spreading in the state. This is a way to reduce violence in the state and in South Sudan” said the spokesperson of the Northern Liech State Youth Union during the induction training.

The sessions during the training included practical exercises and role plays on how to deal with conflict peacefully such as through mediation and peaceful discussion. “I have learned more about how anger should be managed and how a person should be a mediator” said a female participant of the training in Bentiu town. “I have gained a lot of skills in this training.”

The training encouraged the youth to further engage in peace activities. Both sides made action plans that include joint activities such as music and cultural performances and sports events. A request was made by both groups to hold a joint training for the youth from the towns and the youth from the PoC.

“We wish the youth from the PoC and from the counties to come together for a big training. Then they can negotiate and dialogue among themselves about how to reconcile” said the Chairperson of the Northern Liech State Youth Union. “The training has united the youth to come together” said the chairperson of the Youth Forum in the PoC.

One of the participants from Bentiu town, a female secondary school student, pointed out that the training was of particular relevance for the female participants. “The training was important to bring cooperation between female and male youth to bring peace”. Although the participation of women in the youth structures is generally low, 56 percent of the participants in Bentiu town were women. The training provided an opportunity for them to voice their concerns and perspectives. 

Following the induction training, the PaCC project in partnership with the University of Juba are organizing a comprehensive two-week course to further strengthen the youth structures and deepen their knowledge and skills. To create a safe space for the youth to interact and exchange, the project is planning to renovate and expand the youth center in Bentiu town.

During the closing ceremony of the induction training in the PoC, the IOM representative commended the youth for their active engagement in the training and highlighted the importance of sharing the knowledge and putting into practice the newly acquired skills.

As part of the ongoing youth peacebuilding project, UNDP and IOM expressed their commitment to continue their support to the youth in the PoC and in Bentiu and Rubkona towns. Additional peacebuilding and livelihood activities are planned to further strengthen the capacity of the youth structures.

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