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W. Equatoria’s Nzara county commissioner visits LRA affected areas

October 7, 2010 (NZARA) — Nzara County commissioner Elia Richard Box on Tuesday October 5, paid his first official visit to Sangua and Basukangbi payams [districts] near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); the most affected and deserted payams by atrocities by the Ugandan rebel movement the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

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Nzara County Commissioner Mr. Elia Richard Box addresses IDPs at Nzar a settlement camp south Sudan Oct. 2010

The Commissioner was accompanied by the two members of parliament, Bernado Kpasira MP of the South Sudan Legislative assembly, and Paul Tambua MP of the State Legislative Assembly.

Upon his return from the visit commissioner Richard said, “the visit was aimed at assessing the situations, roads and to listen to the IDPs to see ways forward for their resettlement back to their payams.”

Paramount chief of Nzara County, Faustino Basuksngbi, said that, “after the displacement, people thought it wise to be repatriated back to their payams in order to cultivate since the food aid being distributed are not enough to cater for the displaced persons.”

He added that “more security forces should be deployed in vulnerable places to allow this people return back to their home lands and continue with normal life as before.”

In response the paramount chief concerns, Nzara County commissioner said: “I have already coordinated with the State Government and the Ugandan People’s Defense forces (UPDF) on how to allow the displaced people to be settled back to their various payams.”

In September Western Equatoria state governor Joseph Bakasoro announced that local vigilante group, the Arrow Boys, who are familiar with the forests of the state, would be armed to fight the LRA.

Commissioner Richard said that 5 million Sudanese pounds SDG (over USD $2 million) has been promised to the Arrow Boys, “the state Government will ensure that, all the affected areas of the state are prioritized, hence Sangua and Basukengbi are not exceptional.”

The state government has embarked on the enforcement of the home guards (Vigilantes) who are well mapped with the forests of the state to deal with the notorious rebels who do not and have not attempted to attack any army barracks only sneaking around villages to kill innocent women and children.

The two MPs who accompanied the commissioner appealed to the citizens of the payam “to stay calm” saying that roads connecting the payam with the county headquarters is being planned, which will aid rehabilitated and allow services to be delivered quicker.

The LRA displaced almost three payams of Nzara county leaving many people to confine themselves within towns without shelter, and food.

With the referendum on whether south Sudan wants to become independent due to take place in January, local authorities are attempting to improve security in the area to allow citizens to vote.

Western Equatoria has not experienced dividends from the 2005 peace deal that made the former rebels the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement the ruling party of southern Sudan. The situation has been made worse by the LRA and the Ambororo - a nomadic cattle herding group - who have also been accused of terrorizing the innocent communities of the state.

The current government has prioritized security and referendum in 2010 saying that other state services will follow.

Nzara county has a population of 65,712 people according to the 2009 Sudan’s population census head count, Nzara county lies to the western part of the state bordering the Congo (DRC).

(ST)