Unity State governor blames arms proliferation for violence, calls for disarmament
The governor of Unity State, Dr. Joseph Monytuil Wejang, has called for the disarmament of the population to mitigate amplified crime, gender-based violence, rape, inter-communal violence, and cattle rustling in the state.
He made the call during a one-day visit by the UNMISS Deputy Special Representative and Resident Coordinator in South Sudan, Sara Beysolow Nyanti, to the state over the weekend.
“We do not deny the issue of rape. It happens from time to time but what are the contributing factors to this phenomenon of rape? Conflicts have severely affected this country,” Dr. Monytuil explained. “The proliferation of small arms into the hands of the civil population and the youth has created a real challenge to the government of the country and to the government of the states.”
“We must disarm the civil population. If we do not do this, whatever efforts we make to reduce these cases of rape will be a waste of our time and efforts,” he added.
The governor said the youth had resorted to selling guns to Sudanese Arab nomads who might in the future use them against the people of South Sudan.
“Can we come together and think on how best we can disarm our civil population? It is possible that we can do it and there are many ways we can do it,” he said. “Now our youth have resorted to selling their guns to Arab nomads. Why not sell them to the government of the state? Can we allocate resources for that purpose? They have resorted to killing themselves so that they take guns from their colleagues to go and sell to Arab nomads just for the purpose of money.”
Dr. Monytuil said the other option is to make the law enforcement agencies attractive to the youth so that they enlist and serve in the police service, prison, and wildlife.
UNMISS’ Nyanti said that the purpose of her visit was to observe the situation for herself.
“I have been taking key steps to address the situation but I want to make sure that I am taking steps that are appropriate, contextual, and in line with the needs on the ground,” Nyanti said. “I wanted to be able to come to monitor and verify for myself and engage with the people who are impacted and actually engage people who are responsible and accountable for the results of the people.”
She thanked the humanitarian community in Bentiu for responding to the situation coming to the aid of the people who are impacted in Leer County.
"My message to them (humanitarians) is to continue with what they are doing to intensify their efforts. We do not have the funding that we had last year,” Nyanti said.
She urged the government in Unity State to ensure that there is protection for humanitarian workers and also address the issue of sexual gender-based violence and rape.
"What I was telling the governor is that humanitarian actions do not develop the country but only save lives. Humanitarians are not here to create jobs and develop the private sectors or infrastructure but humanitarians only come to feed, bring health and shelter to those who are in desperate need,” she said.
“My appeal to the governor and to all actors is for peace. If we have peace, we can get access to those services in terms of building capacity, empowerment, and ensuring resilience towards development,” she said. “Development action is what develops a country.”