Basketball helping to bring peace in South Sudan

South Sudanese hold flags as they wait to welcome back the country’s basketball team, at Juba International airport, South Sudan, Tuesday, Sept.5, 2023
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Samir Bol/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.

South Sudan

In South Sudan, authorities and the United Nations are trying an unlikely approach to achieving peace – the sport of basketball. 

In a tournament held in the city of Yambio in western Equatorial state, different local teams competed with one eye on building friendship as a key ingredient for peace in the world’s youngest country.

“As a youth of this state, it is very important that we take a lead, and also by example, and we do kind of games, bringing young people together. We are very proud that our youth can be able to play, and if we continue to playing these kind of games, I think we can be able to solve some of our social issues,” said Jacob Anther, a player for one of the competing teams

For Geoffrey Omon, chair of the UN peacekeeping mission’s Welfare Committee in Yambio city , sports can help solidify a durable peace as the world’s youngest country transitions from conflict.

“We are proud to be part of today’s activity, with the community members, because basketball is one of the games that brings peace, love and joy among the community members. I am so happy that today women, children and different sections of the community were here watching United Nations Mission in South Sudan playing against community members,” Omon said.

South Sudan descended into a bloody civil war shortly after independence in 2011, following a political disagreement between President Salva Kiir and his then Deputy Riek Machar that killed about 400,000 people, according to the UN.

While the violence has reduced since 2019, low intensity conflict still plagues various parts of the country.

South Sudan is expected to conduct a general election, its first since independence in December 2024.

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