Thessherald–The Deputy Governor of Upper Nile State, James Tor Monybuny, Maiwut Commissioner, Hon. Bang Kawich Deng and other accompanying delegation traveled to Gambella on Friday, May 7, 2021 and discussed cross-border issues with Gambella regional leaders.
The three-hour meeting between leaders of neighboring states addressed issues related to cross-border trade, illicit arms smuggling, and among other pressing issues undermining regional peace and stability.
Speaking to the press after the meeting, Monybuny expressed his readiness to work hand-in-hand with the Gambella regional leaders in an attempt to restore peace and security between Upper Nile State and Gambella region.
“South Sudan is within our reach, and now we have an organized government that will deal with you directly…we were divided by the conflict and this has been very difficult for us to stop criminal acts along the border,” said James Tor Monybuny, Deputy Governor of Upper Nile State.
He also stressed the need to review Ethiopia’s federal policy prohibiting commercial items exported from Kuergeng to Pagak, and incidents of harassment of South Sudanese officials and diplomats at border posts. He commended the Ethiopian government for sheltering thousands of South Sudanese refugees and asylum seekers who fled the country in 2013.
“Your Excellency, as you have mentioned earlier — indeed, we’re one people divided by regional boundaries. The people of South Sudan, particularly the people of Upper Nile and the people of Gambella, are one community. We are thankful that you have been hosting our refugees,” he pointed out.
According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, at the end of June 2020, Ethiopia hosted 342,765 refugees from South Sudan, of whom 319,130 were accommodated in seven camps in Gambella.
On the same note, the Commissioner of Maiwut county, Hon. Bang Kawich Deng, lauded the Ethiopian government for showing warm hospitality to the people of South Sudan when they were in desperate need of help. He also emphasized on the importance of allowing free movement of traders along the borders.
For his part, the Governor of Gambella region, Omot Ojulu Obub, warmly welcomed the South Sudanese delegation and expressed his willingness to re-open and ease some restrictive measures put in place by the federal government.