Patterns of mass atrocity show that identity-based hate crime is a key precursor to genocide. Due to ongoing ethnic conflict, South Sudan is currently a country of ‘serious concern’ of mass atrocities. Addressing divisions can help to prevent further escalation.
The South Sudan Youth Peace and Development Organisation (SSYPADO) engages youth in interethnic dialogue and peace-building. Rights for Peace is supporting SSYPADO in a DFID-funded project that is training and funding youth leaders to counter ethnic division.
In September 2019, a group of 25 youth leaders from different ethnic groups living across South Sudan travelled to Rwanda for an exchange visit to learn about the genocide, reconciliation and peacebuilding. In October they participated in a training course in Juba, engaging in interactive exercises to explore identity, community divisions, and entry-points into overcoming conflict. The youth leaders also explored project design and measuring impact before receiving seed funding for their own initiatives.
Many of the young leaders grew up during the independence wars and still live in displacement camps. Although the risk of mass atrocities has reduced, they identified prejudice and unresolved land disputes as fuelling ongoing divisions today. Gender-based violence was also highlighted as a significant issue, also fuelled by prejudice and stereotyping. The youth-led initiatives in 6 locations are designed to challenge prejudices and misinformation, promoting dialogue and understanding.