In South Sudan, Invisible Children works alongside local organizations to develop local peacebuilders who promote peace and improve conditions for vulnerable groups.
For many years, we have worked alongside the Interchurch Committee of South Sudan (ICCSS) to help communities prevent and recover from violent conflict. Invisible Children has partnered with ICCSS to reunite former captives of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) with their families, develop tools for communities to address trauma, and support community-led peacebuilding.
Because violent conflict and its drivers often cross borders, it’s important that our work to support affected communities does as well. That is why we work with ICCSS to establish and develop local Peace Committees in communities along the borders with the Central African Republic (CAR) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). By supporting local peacebuilders on all sides of the borders between South Sudan, CAR, and DRC, the work of each Peace Committee is reinforced by that of others nearby.
Peace Committees Are Representative of Their Community
Peace Committees are diverse groups of people who come together to address local challenges, work to reduce vulnerabilities to violence, and help peacefully address local disputes. In South Sudan, many of the Peace Committees include representatives from local security forces. In some communities, this has led to an improvement in relationships between communities and local security forces which has helped peace committees work more effectively and enhanced community safety.
Peace Committees Focus on the Most Vulnerable
Peace Committees work to address the needs of their entire communities and develop plans for how to improve safety with a special focus on women, youth, and other vulnerable groups. In November 2020, a Central African armed group was targetting women in a community just across the border in South Sudan. When the local Peace Committee became aware of this trend, they immediately worked to raise community awareness, encourage women to travel in groups, and advocate for local officials to enforce border-crossing restrictions at night, when many attacks were occurring. As a result, the Peace Committee and the community were able to reduce attacks on women.
Peace Committees Prevent Violent Conflict
In the last few years, our support of local Peace Committees in South Sudan has also helped to reduce tensions and prevent violent conflict between groups within communities. In this region, there is often tension between farmers and nomadic pastoralists who herd cattle through local towns and villages. Thanks to the work of ICCSS, Peace Committees were well equipped and successfully able to mediate tensions and prevent violence during an influx of pastoralists passing through the region by engaging with pastoralist leaders and discouraging local youth from enacting violence against the herders passing through their communities.
Thanks to the work of ICCSS and the Peace Committees they support, local peacebuilding efforts in South Sudan are having a strong impact. Not only are Peace Committees helping to ensure the safety and wellbeing of members of their communities, they are also laying foundations that help make the communities around them and across the region safer as well.