White Army ‘Operation Savannah Storm’: South Sudan ethnic militia warn of major new operation

Posted: February 6, 2012 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Junub Sudan
Tags: , , , , ,

06 Feb 2012 14:42

Source: Alertnet // Katy Migiro

Internally displaced people fill up a container with oil as they distribute food in Pibor county, Jonglei State, January 12, 2012. REUTERS/Isaac Billy/UNMISS/Handout

By Katy Migiro

NAIROBI (AlertNet) – A 30,000-strong ethnic militia, known as the White Army, has announced it plans a major operation in South Sudan’s troubled Jonglei state, raising fears of fresh violence following tribal clashes which have already displaced 140,000 people since December.

The warning comes as aid workers rush to deliver food, shelter and medical supplies to the vast eastern state before March rains make the roads impassable.

The White Army, composed of armed Nuer and Dinka youth, said in astatement posted online that it would launch Operation Savannah Storm on March 1 to secure its territories against Murle youth, accusing them of raiding neighbouring communities.

South Sudan’s Lou Nuer and Murle cattle-herding communities have become involved in a cycle of deadly revenge attacks, initially over water and grazing land. Women and children have been abducted during the conflict.

“Quarantining Murle youth is the effective mechanism that shall prevent them from abducting kids of their neighbors,” said the Feb. 4 statement.

In December, a column of 6,000 to 8,000 Lou Nuer, a subgroup of the Nuer,  marched on Murle towns and villages, killing scores of people. The United Nations, with just over 5,000 peacekeepers, was unable to stop them.

South Sudan, which became the world’s newest state last July after a referendum agreed under a 2005 peace deal with Sudan ended decades of civil war, is a poor country awash with weapons. Security is fragile and ethnic rivalries, sharpened by hate speech, are putting a strain on nation-building efforts.


The White Army said its new operation would be defensive, not offensive.

“Operation Savannah Storm is different from the operation that was launched in December,” the statement said. “There is no intention to attack Murle’s villages and towns.”

However, the White Army will “look for armed Murle youth in the bushes” and make the Murle “pay a price” for their January attack on the holy city of Wec Deang.

The city is home to a sacred pyramid constructed by the Nuer prophet Ngundeng.

The prophet’s grandson recently said: “All the Nuer in USA, Canada, Europe, New Zealand and Australia must come back to South Sudan to join the war against Murle who defiled Nuerland by attacking (the) holy city.”

The White Army also asked Nuer and Dinka soldiers in the South Sudanese army to contribute ammunition and military hardware to the operation.

The expanded militia will also involve Nuer from Ethiopia, according to the statement. It said that a delegation visiting their tribesmen in South Sudan offered to join Operation Savannah Storm as the Murle had also “terrorised” the Ethiopian Nuer and stolen their cattle.

The United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos, who visited Jonglei last week, said the spike in inter-ethnic violence had compounded the difficult humanitarian situation.

“Before the crisis in Jonglei, humanitarian partners were already over-stretched, carrying out some 30 emergency operations across the country,” Amos said.

“In some of the worst-hit areas, there are only a handful of partners on the ground.”


Nuer and Dinka White Army To Launch ‘Operation Savannah Storm’ Against Murle Armed Youth

Armed Youth in Murleland, December 2011. Photo: ST
Nuer and Dinka White Army Will Launch Operation Savannah Storm
Media Release
Nuer and Dinka White Army, Uror County, Jonglei State, South Sudan
Date: February 4th, 2012

February 4, 2012 (SSNA) — The leadership of Nuer and Dinka White Army composed of representatives of Lou Nuer, Jikany Nuer, Gawaar Nuer and Twic Dinka received the delegation of Ethiopian Nuer today at Pieri Payam, Uror County. The leader of the White Army, Bor Doang, received a letter from Ethiopian Nuer last month that a delegation would be visiting him to discuss the threats posed by armed Murle’s elements.

After receiving the delegation from Ethiopia, the Nuer elders slaughtered five bulls to Deng (God) to bless the delegation from Ethiopia and any operation that the Nuer on both sides of Ethiopia and South Sudan would launch to protect civilians from armed Murle youth and SPLA deserters. The elders informed the leadership of the White Army that the Grandson of Prophet Ngundeng, Gai Lel Ngundeng, who is currently in Juba, will bring the Divine Rod to Wec Deang to bless the White Army by slaughtering bulls. The leadership of the White Army was instructed to visit Wec Deang to receive Gai Lel Ngundeng before launching any operation to receive blessings from God of Prophet Ngundeng.

After opening the meeting, Bor Doang introduced the leader of Ethiopian Nuer delegation and thanked him for the trip to Pieri Payam to meet his brothers who have been subjected to insecurity by armed Murle youth. The leader of the Ethiopian Nuer youth, Goliath Chuol Chai, stood up and said that the reason they walked for many days on foot is because the insecurity posed by armed Murle men is not any longer a problem unique to Nuer and Dinka civilians of South Sudan. He said that Murle terrorized Ethiopian Nuer and led many civilians to abandon Bilpam Kebele (Kebele is Amharic word equivalent to Payam in South Sudan), Makwei and many areas. Since 2006, Murle had stolen more than twenty thousand heads of cattle from Ethiopian Nuer. The latest is January, 18, 2012 when Murle attacked many villages of Jekow Woreda (County) and took more than one thousand heads of cattle. He also added that on January, 20, 2012, Murle cattle rustlers went as far as Pinyudo refugee Camp and took over five hundred heads of cattle belonging to South Sudan refugees.

The leader of Twic Dinka White Army stood up and said that Murle massacred more than two hundred civilians from January, 10—24, 2012 in Duk Padiet, Pawiel, Jale and Twic East. He thanked Bor Doang for sending a force of one thousand Nuer youth who saved a lot of lives in Duk Pawiel when Dinka came under attack of heavily armed Murle. The quick response of the Nuer demonstrated brotherly unity that was forged in December, 2011 when both communities jointly launched Operation Ending Murle Raiding and abductions. He added that the nature of war with Murle has changed because more than four thousand SPLA soldiers of Murle deserted their bases and joined their people. In January, Duk Pawiel, Duk Padiet and Twic East were attacked by armed Murle who deserted from the SPLA army with heavy weapons ranging from RPG-7 to 12.5. When they attacked Duk Pawiel, a Colonel with his SPLA military uniform was among the dead bodies of Murle fighters.

Bor Doang told the participants of the meeting that Murle have so far killed more than three hundred Lou Nuer since January, 7, 2012. He said that Murle soldiers who attacked Wec Deang in January deserted the SPLA army bases in Upper Nile State with the intention of massacring innocent Nuer and Dinka civilians. The attack of Wec Deang not only defiled the holy place of Prophet Ngundeng but also led to death of innocent Nuer civilians. It is the first time since 1902 that an armed group could attack Wec Deang and massacre civilians. The Nuer youth were enraged after hearing the attack of Wec Deang because it is an affront to all Nuer, including Nuer of Ethiopia, that the place of Ngundeng’s pyramid could be attacked by Murle. Bor Doang concluded that Murle deserters of the SPLA who did that must pay a price for insulting Prophet Ngundeng.

The leaders of Ethiopian and South Sudanese Nuer and Twic Dinka have unanimously passed the following resolutions which shall come into effect immediately starting from February 5th, 2012:

1. The Lou Nuer, Gawaar Nuer, Jikany Nuer, Ethiopian Nuer and Twic Dinka shall contribute a force of 30,000 well armed youth for the launching of Operation Savannah Storm which shall commence on March, 1st, 2012. The Nuer clans of South Sudan shall contribute 20,000 to the operation while the Twic Dinka and Ethiopian Nuer shall contribute 10,000. The operation will be permanent until Murle do not pose security threats to their neighbors.

2. The objective of the Operation Savannah Storm is to secure the border of Nuer (both South Sudan and Ethiopia), Anyuak (both South Sudan and Ethiopia) and Dinka so that armed Murle youth will not raid neighboring communities as they have been doing so far. Quarantining Murle youth is the effective mechanism that shall prevent them from abducting kids of their neighbors.

3. Each Nuer and Dinka clan is responsible for organizing its youth and putting logistics together to carry out the operation in March. It is resolved by the leaders and the participants of the meeting that the youth of each group must contribute cows that shall be used as food for the 30,000 forces that will carry out the operation.

4. The Nuer and Dinka White Army appealed to Nuer and Dinka soldiers of the SPLA to contribute ammunition and military hardware to the youth that shall take part in the operation because Operation Savannah Storm is the only one that shall create a buffer zone of security to prevent cattle rustlers of Murle from carrying out raids and abductions.

5. The Operation Savannah Storm will not target Murle’s women, children and the elderly. The White Army that shall take part will only be at the border to prevent cattle rustling and look for armed Murle youth who may be hiding in the bushes.

6. The Nuer and Dinka White Army want to inform the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and international NGOs that Operation Savannah Storm will not target Murle’s villages and towns. The operation will be confined to the border. Any operation that will take place beyond the border to look for armed Murle youth in the bushes shall not include villages and towns. We want to assure the UNMISS that Operation Savannah Storm is different from the operation that was launched in December, 2011. The objective of this year operation is to secure the border and there is no intention to attack Murle’s villages and towns.

7. The Nuer and Dinka White Army would invite UN forces to stay with them at the border after launching the operation in order for the UNMISS to know that the new operation is not intended to attack Murle’s villages and towns.

8. After launching Operation Savannah Storm, the leadership of the White Army may invite international media to the field to witness for themselves that the intention of the operation is to protect Nuer, Dinka and Anyuak civilians from armed Murle. The White Army has no intention whatsoever to target women, children and elderly.

For contact:

Leadership of the Nuer and Dinka White Army
Pieri, Uror County, Jonglei State
Thuraya Phone: +882156997450

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