Community-led Cross Border Security Agreement Reached Between Rezeigat and Dinka Malual in Northern Bahr el Ghazal

Feb 12, 2018

Community leaders from the Dinka Malual and Rezeigat complete the signing ceremony on the new migration and security agreement between the border communities. Photo: UNDP

The Dinka Malual of Lol State and the nomadic Rezeigat community from Eastern Darfur (Sudan) signed an agreement in Nyamlell during a pre-migration peace conference to regulate the pastoralist migration between the two borderland communities. The conference was co-sponsored by UNDP, FAO and UNMISS Civil Affairs and coordinated by the regional representation of the South Sudan Peace and Reconciliation Commission.

The two communities in the border areas have a long history of exchange and sharing of resources. Their relationship has a long tradition based on reciprocity and shared ties.

“We are always one people because your suffering as Dinka Malual is our pain and your happiness is our joy,” said Mohamed Benani, the Head of the Joint Border Peace Committee from the Rezeigat community. 

Every year during the dry season, pastoralists from the Rezeigat community cross with their cattle into the Northern Bahr El Ghazal region in search for water and pastures. The seasonal movements through the border region have continuously created tensions between the two communities. To address these tensions, migration conferences are being held annually to review previous agreements and agree on certain regulations regarding the migration between the Dinka Malual and Rezeigat.

“The migration conferences bring change because the two communities were in conflict and were fighting each other. But now when we are dialoguing, it is bringing our two communities together. It is bringing the environment for peace (…),” explained Riiny Riiny Lual, the Paramount Chief of Marial Bay.

“This conference is one of our traditional mechanisms for our two communities to sit down, to listen to each other and to discuss our problems. Through these traditional ways we solve all the problems between us,” said Mohamed Benani, the head of the Joint Border Peace Committee from the Rezeigat.

During the opening ceremony, a representative from UNDP highlighted that the pre-migration conferences are not onetime events but are part of a long tradition of exchange between the two borderland communities. 

“This is not the first time for us to conduct this kind of conference, it happened since our grandfathers (…) and we will leave it to our children to come. (…) it will not stop because it is very important for the peace to exist between our two communities,” added the Paramount Chief of Marial Bay.

P2034425Signing of the agreement in Nyamlell, Northern Bahr el Ghazal. Photo: UNDP

Joint Border Peace Committees were established to facilitate the exchange between the two communities. The committee members play a key role in following up on the implementation of the migration agreement. In 2017, several of the peace committee members participated in a training workshop organized by UNDP and the South Sudan Peace and Reconciliation Commission (SSPRC) designed to help them better understand their roles as peace committee members and improve their skills in leadership and conflict management.

This year’s migration agreement includes 14 resolutions and six recommendations. Amongst others, the communities agreed that the period of movement of Rezeigat from Eastern Darfur to South Sudan shall start from first week of February to the first week of June upon the delay of rainfall and agreed on corridors for the migration for the Rezeigat during the entry and exit from Dinka Malual territory.

The UNMISS representative stressed in his closing remarks that the implementation of the resolutions is as important as the conference. During the closing ceremony, the Minister of Local Government Anei Anei Juach expressed the commitment of the authorities to support the implementation of the resolutions.

“I am very much delighted about the resolutions that Dinka Malual and Rezeigat came up with in this short period of time. As representative of the Government of Lol State, we will implement our part 100 percent. We are committed to the peace. We will always stand with the resolutions of this peace,” he said.

Through one of the recommendations in the agreement, both the Dinka Malual and Rezeigat commit to strongly encourage the participation of more women in the peace conferences. Mary Adeng Tong Ayei, one of the female representatives of the Dinka Malual community and Head of the Women Association openly expressed her position on the importance of women participation. 

“I am here because we are women and we have the right to participate in peace conferences. As women we can talk to our families not to involve in fighting between Rizeigat and Dinka Malual,” she said.

“I am requesting women from Rezeigat to also come and attend these conferences, this is very important. When women are left out the peace cannot exist,” she continued. “Women should participate fully in this peace process and when presentations are made, women should also be involved in the presentations. And when there is a document to be signed, women should also participate in signing,” she added.

As a gesture of ownership of the peace process, the Dinka Malual and Rezeigat communities as well as the Lol State and Aweil State government contributed bulls, goats, flour, sugar and onions.

“There are some items that we cannot provide as communities like stationaries, transport and accommodation. But this peace belongs to us, we believe when things will be ok, we will be doing the conference alone without support from others,” said the Paramount Chief of Marial Bay.

The migration conferences in the Northern Bahr El Ghazal region have been lauded as a model for peaceful coexistence and are being replicated in other states of South Sudan.

“We are very proud that the Rezeigat and Dinka Malual are being used as an example for other migrations and that they are being asked to share their successful experiences with other nomads,” said William Kolong, the Regional Peace Coordinator from the South Sudan Peace and Reconciliation Commission.

UNDP expressed commitment to continue providing support to a peaceful migration and peaceful coexistence of the borderland communities. The support to the conference is part of the peacebuilding and social cohesion pillar of the joint United Nations recovery and stabilization response in Northern Bahr el Ghazal. The joint programme is aligned to the Secretary-General’s ‘New Way of Working’ and designed to complement humanitarian assistance through integrated multi-sectoral support to increase community resilience to shocks in relatively peaceful yet vulnerable areas in the country.

P2034443The People to People Grassroots Peace Conference attendees from the Dinka Malual and Rezeigat communities at the closing ceremony in Nyamlell, Northern Bahr el Ghazal. Photo: UNDP

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