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UN provides support as civilian disarmament begins in South Sudan

12 March 2012 – As civilian disarmament begins in Jonglei state in South Sudan, the United Nations mission in the country said today that it will provide support by collecting weapons held illegally and monitoring the process, which represents a key element to end the violence in the region.

“The widespread possession, and use, of illegal weapons by the communities and the proliferation of small arms constitutes a significant threat to peace and security in South Sudan, and is seriously exacerbating inter-communal violence in Jonglei,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the mission (UNMISS), Hilde F. Johnson.

UNMISS, which will have both its peacekeepers and civilian teams present in Jonglei to monitor developments, stressed in a news release that the disarmament process will only be successful if it is carried out as part of a comprehensive approach to peace, justice and reconciliation, and includes protection of the communities by security forces.

“UNMISS will support a peaceful civilian disarmament process which involves communities voluntarily giving up their illegal weapons following sensitization from local community leaders and government officials,” Ms. Johnson said, adding that the mission was encouraged by the Government’s strategy.

“It is now critical that all stakeholders cooperate to make sure that the strategy is implemented as intended,” she added.

UNMISS urged community leaders, Government officials and security forces to do their utmost to ensure that the disarmament process happens in an orderly and safe manner, with respect for basic human rights.

Ms. Johnson also reiterated her call on Government authorities and communities in Jonglei to show a commitment to peace. “I urge the communities to work with the peace committee for Jonglei to bring an end to the violence. A proactive reconciliation process and peaceful disarmament is the only way forward to maintain peace and security for the people of the area.”

Deadly clashes between the Lou Nuer and Murle communities in late December and early January displaced tens of thousands of civilians in Jonglei and prompted UN agencies to launch a major humanitarian operation to assist those in need.

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