- Andrew Walker
South Sudan at 10: Youth call for inclusive engagement to build peace & unity
On South Sudan’s 10th anniversary, Youth leaders from around the country make recommendations on how to ensuring effective Truth, Reconciliation & Healing while also countering identity-based prejudice, mistrust and violence. They claimed that:
Youth must be informed of processes that concern them.
Youth need to make their voices heard and their needs understood.
Youth require sustained capacity building and opportunities to participate in decision-making processes.
As part of the 24-month project funded by UK's Jo Cox Memorial Grants, young activists identified how to reverse prejudice, mistrust and violence and foment reconciliation and healing. Given that 73% of the population is under 30, it is critical that youth are placed at the centre of peacebuilding and the future work of the Commission on Truth, Reconciliation and Healing.
Youth feel they are generally mistrusted and misunderstood, and that in order to harness potential there needs to be a sea change in opportunities for younger people to have their voices heard and take on active roles in their communities. Inter-generational dialogues are needed with training on identity, prejudice and discrimination to tackle inter-communal conflict.
The young activists have led a range of peace building projects in locations across South Sudan and Northern Uganda including Malakal, Torit, Juba, Mangateen (IDP camp near Juba) as well as Adjumani, Bidi Bidi Refugee Camps. They are keen to show that youth can be positive agents for triggering attitude and behaviour change when it comes to identity and countering hate narratives.
The participants demonstrated that they already possess vital and necessary skills to participate in peacebuilding processes, many of them have put their skills to use to mediate and resolve local disputes. Youth face severe challenges such as restricted access to education and healthcare, high rates of unemployment and lack of representation and engagement in political affairs. However, as shown by their abilities to identify solutions to tackle local divisions, once they are given opportunities to develop and showcase their potential, the younger generation can make a significant difference in building peace in their young nation..
To read more about this workshop and the established proposals to combat IBV in South Sudan, read SSYPADO’s communiqué below!
 United Nations, 'UN Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth visits South Sudan' (2020) https://www.un.org/youthenvoy/2020/02/un-secretary-generals-envoy-on-youth-visits-south-sudan/