South Sudan Bishop Wins UN Peace Award

Juba — When Bishop Emeritus Paride Taban started his Holy Trinity Peace Village in Kuron, South Sudan's Eastern Equatoria state in 1999, little did he know it would bare fruits several years later.

The project, which initially started as a demonstration farm at the height of the north-south Sudan civil war, later expanded in 2004, becoming a village where people from different tribes, nations and religions live and work together to promote peace and development in surrounding villages.

It thus not surprising that the United Nations, this week, named the South Sudanese bishop winner of the 2013 Sergio Vieira de Mello Prize in recognition for his efforts in promoting peace in communities within the young nation.

Vieira de Mello, a former UN's former human rights chief, died in a bombing in Iraq 10 years ago.

The award recognises an individual, community or institution seen as having made an exceptional contribution to reconciliation of communities or groups in conflict, and whose example can be duplicated elsewhere.

"The fact that this village [Kuron] is now seen as an example of reconciliation and peace will encourage other communities to follow a similar approach in other areas of conflict in South Sudan and beyond," Laurent Vieira de Mello, president of the prize foundation said in a statement.

The jury for the award, given annually, includes the UN's refugee agency (UNHCR) and human rights chiefs.

Meanwhile, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon is due to present Bishop Taban with his the award at a ceremony scheduled for 1 March in Geneva, Switzerland. He will receive 5,000 Swiss francs (about $5,500) in prize money.

A native of Opari, in Eastern Equatoria, Bishop Taban was born in 1936. He was reportedly ordained a priest in 1964, and in January 1980, appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Juba.

Three year later, Taban became the first Bishop of the then newly erected Diocese of Torit, the provincial capital of Eastern Equatoria state. He retired from archdiocesan administration in February 2004, and became Bishop Emeritus.

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