South Sudan: safety and security challenges to enhance Peace in Maridi

A group of people with weapons A group of people with weapons © Randy Fath on Unsplash

This article is a brief presentation of the Saferworld’s report exploring challenges of safety and security to enhancing peace in Maridi in South Sudan

Saferworld is an independent international organization committed to preventing conflicts and improving the lives of the communities. It has been working in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, including South Sudan, since 2002. In 2012, Saferworld adopted the security Agenda. However, after the conflict erupted in 2013, Saferworld has further improved its action through peacebuilding and reconciliation programs to ensure peace to South Sudanese communities

The County of Maridi, in South Sudan, is one of the eight counties of Western Equatoria. It is considered one of the least belligerent counties. However, improper law enforcement, violence, substance abuse, and inadequate land management jeopardize its safety and security. The need to examine the situation of Maridi stems from the suffering of South Sudanese citizens threatened by a daunting economic environment.  

The report identifies numerous challenges and makes several recommendations based on a two-day roundtable event held by Saferworld in collaboration with Maridi Service Agency (MSA) on the 17th and 18th September 2020 in Maridi. It is interesting to note that the event does not necessarily reflect their perspectives. Conversely, it sheds light on the views of its participants. The attendees included government officials from Western Equatoria, authorities from Maridi, international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), national civil society organizations (CSOs), women's groups, religious groups, and youth unions.

Security and safety are related terms with different meanings. In the relevant report, security is the protection of people and their assets from violence or theft. Safety, instead, is the protection of people from harm. In other words, the meaning of safety is broader than that of security since the latter is a related consequence. In great detail, safety and security are at risk in Maridi due to several issues. Firstly, the inability of agencies to ensure security causes the ineffectiveness of law enforcement. In practice, improper police training and the lack of responses cause wide gaps between the communities and the state force. Secondly, the movement of neighboring pastoralist communities is a significant threat for the inhabitants of Maridi because the grazing of herds in the county destroys their source of livelihood. Thirdly, the fraudulent sale of lands due to inadequate land regulations and policies has led to weak land management. This issue is indeed identified as one of the primary causes of the conflict in South Sudan. Fourthly, substance abuse is also considered one of the main drivers of conflict. Drug and alcohol abuse is mainly due to a lack of truck checks, entering the State, and excessive alcohol, weed, and shisha consumption, at a local level. Lastly, gender-based violence, such as rape and forced marriage, is a tragedy of South Sudan. Social norms and misinformation are the root causes of sexual violence against girls and adolescents, ending up spreading sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like HIV/AIDS.

In the final analysis, participants issued several recommendations to tackle the above mentioned challenges. They targeted three different groups. Firstly, they urged the State and national governments to solve the inadequacies within the county by increasing the monitoring capacity and tracking of substances, carrying out peaceful disarmament, maintaining proper land allotment and keeping records through land registry systems, and providing girls with free and reliable sexual reproductive information. Secondly, attendees called on the civil society to raise awareness in Maridi on the use and sale on land, but also on the negative impact of gender-based violence; and to establish dialogues between host communities and cattle herders. Finally, they encouraged communities to condemn child marriage and gender-based violence and promote education for children, especially girls.


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Author: Valentina Di Carlantonio

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