Posts Tagged ‘doctors without borders’


An MSF doctor examines a baby in Pibor, in Jonglei State in South Sudan.
Photo: Doctors Without Borders / MSF
An MSF doctor examines a baby in Pibor, in Jonglei State in South Sudan. People who went into hiding following recent attacks continue to come in for urgently needed medical care at MSF’s re-opened facilities.

United Nations peacekeepers, community leaders and the world’s newest government in South Sudan are trying to quell ethnic violence in the country’s biggest state, Jonglei. But new warnings and a lack of resources have analysts fearing violence will continue.

Aid workers say more than 140,000 people have been displaced by the ethnic violence in eastern Jonglei state, which has caused an unknown number of deaths in recent months, estimated at the several thousand.

The most recent attack, in which two herders were killed by an alleged cattle raider, was reported Sunday in the state’s Bor county.

An armed Nuer and Dinka youth militia group calling itself the White Army has issued an ominous warning saying that next month it will start new operations to contain rival Murle youth.

Militias from both ethnic groups have attacked and counter-attacked each other since South Sudan broke away from Sudan and became independent last year.

J. Peter Pham, the Africa director at the Washington-based Atlantic Council, says historical rivalries between the cattle herding communities, which had been dormant for a while, suddenly exploded. “The thought of independence, the dream of having their own country kept the various disparate factions together long enough to achieve it and they achieved it relatively smoothly but now comes the hard part which is building a state where there has not been one before,” he said.

Ethnic militias were often used and paid by rival sides in Sudan’s long civil war.  Without that revenue and with the realization their new country would not be providing them new opportunities, some of the militia groups have conducted cattle raids as a substitute.

Jonathan Temin from the United States Institute of Peace says there seems to be a multitude of factors behind the violence. “The availability of small arms and light weapons certainly makes these kinds of raids more deadly. Another factor here that does not get discussed too often is dowry.  There has been a significant inflation in dowry prices, the prices that a man has to pay in order to get married and because of that inflation men need more cattle in order to get married and that can drive some of the cattle raiding that were are seeing. Then there is also politics which pervades everything in South Sudan,” he said.

Temin says politicians trying to gain standing in the new South Sudan have also caused the situation to deteriorate, by using divisive ethnic arguments to drum up their own support.

United Nations peacekeepers and South Sudan’s security forces have been criticized for not doing enough to stop the ongoing confrontations. Officials from U.N. agencies, the government in Juba and local Jonglei communities all say they are working hard to help victims of the recent violence, as well as prevent new major outbreaks.

Amir Idris, a Sudan expert at Fordham University in the state of New York, says it is important to put the focus on local power-sharing and development, rather than blaming the rival communities.

“If we do so, we begin to demonize these two communities, the Nuer communities and the Murle communities.  And there is nothing wrong with their culture and traditions, but certainly there are some political and economic issues that need to be addressed by the government of South Sudan and the international community to stop these kind of military confrontations, otherwise this cycle of violence will continue,” he said.

South Sudanese immigrant leaders living in Canada and the United States have started a cross-ethnic organization called the Jonglei Peace Initiative to try to help end the violence as well.

In a statement, they also said development projects for all Jonglei communities were urgently needed.

http://www.voanews.com/english/news/africa/South-Sudans-Jonglei-State-Teeters-On-Edge-138898564.html

South Sudan’s Jonglei State Teeters On Edge
Voice of America
February 07, 2012 South Sudan’s Jonglei State Teeters On Edge Nico Colombant United Nations peacekeepers, community leaders and the world’s newest government in South Sudan are trying to quell ethnic violence in the country’s biggest state, Jonglei…

Rebels Free Chinese Workers In Sudan, Red Cross Says
New York Times
The Sudanese government implied that the newly independent nation of South Sudan helped gain the release of the 29 Chinese workers, who had been captured by rebels operating on the contested Sudan-South Sudan border. “The government of China asked the 
Opening eyes in South Sudan
Park Record
Photo Courtesy of Julie Crandall/ A young patient in South Sudan recovers after receiving eye surgery from Dr. Geoff Tabin and other doctors from the Moran Eye Institute. On Saturday, Dr. Geoffrey Tabin and volunteers from the Moran Eye Center 
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Dozens dead in shootout at South Sudan peace meeting

Dozens of people were killed in South Sudan in a shootout at a peace meeting to resolve disputes about stolen cattle, with some reports claiming as many as 37 deaths, officials said Friday.

A herdsman from the Nuer tribe stands among his cattle at a camp near Nyal, southern Sudan, in 2011. Dozens of people were killed in South Sudan during a shootout at a peace meeting to resolve disputes about stolen cattle, with some reports claiming as many as 37 people died, officials said Friday.

“These guys just started shooting everywhere,” said Gideon Gatpan Thoar, Unity state information minister, giving the figure of 37 people killed in Wednesday’s gunfight.

Local officials from Unity and neighbouring Lakes and Warrap states had been taken by the UN for talks to the remote town of Mayendit in Unity after a spate of cattle raids, including a brutal attack last week that killed 79 people.

“The fight just started there and no one knew the cause,” said Lakes state governor Chol Tong Mayay, after gathering accounts from witnesses. “People were just shooting at each other, without knowing whose police and army they were.”

Gunmen, reportedly including rival bodyguards, policemen, soldiers and armed government wildlife officers, sprayed the meeting room with bullets in the battle.

What exactly prompted the fight was not known, but United Nations peacekeepers said it erupted after one official interrupted the meeting and shouted at a counterpart.

Mayay said 22 people from Lakes state were killed and 24 wounded, but he did not know how many were killed from the two other states.

“Four pick-up trucks carrying armed men believed to be SPLA (army) and SSPS (police) then appeared and started shooting indiscriminately at the Mayendit County Commissioner’s compound,” the UN said, without giving a toll.

Map of Sudan and South Sudan. Dozens of people were killed in South Sudan during a shootout at a peace meeting to resolve disputes about stolen cattle, with some reports claiming as many as 37 people died, officials said Friday.

At least 15 people with gunshot wounds had been taken to a clinic in Unity state run by Doctors Without Borders, the medical aid agency said.

A staff member with the UN peacekeeping mission was wounded in the crossfire, while a wildlife service office was later torched in Lakes state, local officials said.

South Sudan — which declared independence from Sudan, its former civil war enemy to the north, in July — is reeling from multiple crises, including ethnic clashes, violent cattle raids and rebel attacks.

UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos on Thursday voiced concern at the scale of violence after visiting war-wracked regions.

Last month, a militia army of up to 8,000 armed youths attacked a rival ethnic group in Jonglei state, with aid workers reporting horrific massacres, including babies beaten against trees and women hacked by machetes.

Juba is also embroiled in a furious row over oil pipeline transit and shipping fees with Khartoum.

South Sudan has said it has completed a shutdown of its oil production — the fledgling nation’s top revenue source — after it accused Sudan of stealing $815 million of its oil and African Union-mediated talks stalled.

http://www.alternet.org/rss/breaking_news/770509/dozens_dead_in_shootout__at_south_sudan_peace_meeting/

By Hannah McNeish (AFP) –

JUBA — Dozens of people were killed in South Sudan in a shootout at a peace meeting to resolve disputes about stolen cattle, with some reports claiming as many as 37 deaths, officials said Friday.

“These guys just started shooting everywhere,” said Gideon Gatpan Thoar, Unity state information minister, giving the figure of 37 people killed in Wednesday’s gunfight.

Local officials from Unity and neighbouring Lakes and Warrap states had been taken by the UN for talks to the remote town of Mayendit in Unity after a spate of cattle raids, including a brutal attack last week that killed 79 people.

“The fight just started there and no one knew the cause,” said Lakes state governor Chol Tong Mayay, after gathering accounts from witnesses. “People were just shooting at each other, without knowing whose police and army they were.”

Gunmen, reportedly including rival bodyguards, policemen, soldiers and armed government wildlife officers, sprayed the meeting room with bullets in the battle.

What exactly prompted the fight was not known, but United Nations peacekeepers said it erupted after one official interrupted the meeting and shouted at a counterpart.

Mayay said 22 people from Lakes state were killed and 24 wounded, but he did not know how many were killed from the two other states.

“Four pick-up trucks carrying armed men believed to be SPLA (army) and SSPS (police) then appeared and started shooting indiscriminately at the Mayendit County Commissioner’s compound,” the UN said, without giving a toll.

At least 15 people with gunshot wounds had been taken to a clinic in Unity state run by Doctors Without Borders, the medical aid agency said.

A staff member with the UN peacekeeping mission was wounded in the crossfire, while a wildlife service office was later torched in Lakes state, local officials said.

South Sudan — which declared independence from Sudan, its former civil war enemy to the north, in July — is reeling from multiple crises, including ethnic clashes, violent cattle raids and rebel attacks.

UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos on Thursday voiced concern at the scale of violence after visiting war-wracked regions.

Last month, a militia army of up to 8,000 armed youths attacked a rival ethnic group in Jonglei state, with aid workers reporting horrific massacres, including babies beaten against trees and women hacked by machetes.

Juba is also embroiled in a furious row over oil pipeline transit and shipping fees with Khartoum.

South Sudan has said it has completed a shutdown of its oil production — the fledgling nation’s top revenue source — after it accused Sudan of stealing $815 million of its oil and African Union-mediated talks stalled.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5ipRbEa5yUW3I-QjDD9drdkI0aYNg?docId=CNG.f03258a555ad0b502ab78983c9d5df6d.7b1


anuary 26, 2012 | 10:52 am

South-sudan

Photo: A woman and her 18-month-old baby, displaced by ethnic violence, wait for aid at a U.N. food distribution center in Pibor, South Sudan, this month. Credit: Hannah McNeish / AFP/Getty Images
REPORTING FROM JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA — Neighbors found the 18-month-old boy crying alone in the bush outside his village of Wek in South Sudan.

Both his parents had been shot to death about two weeks ago during ethnic clashes between the Murle and Luo-Nuer tribes in Jonglei state. The attackers had smashed the child’s head against a tree and left him for dead, according to witness accounts collected by the humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders. His head injuries were severe.

“He was abandoned, without any help,” a witness told the group, which released a report Tuesday on the violence. “We, the community, came looking for people who needed help in the bush and we found him, still alive and alone.”

Doctors Without Borders did not release the names of the witnesses out of concern for their safety.
About 55 people died in the Jan. 11 assault, which left dozens wounded. Many remain missing. The violence was carried out by Murle tribesmen in revenge for attacks by the opposing Luo-Nuer tribe late last year.

At least 120,000 people in Jongwei are in need of aid after violent attacks in December and January, according to the United Nations. There are no reliable estimates of the dead, with victims scattered over vast areas of bush.

“It was evening when we were attacked,” an 18-year-old woman from Wek, whose husband and one of her children were shot and killed, told Doctors Without Borders. “People all around us were being shot and cut with knives. When I heard the shooting, I tried to run away with my husband and my children, but I was shot in the leg and I fell down.”

Doctors Without Borders treated 94 people at the site for stabbing and gunshot wounds. More than half of the 13 victims airlifted out by the group were less than 5 years old.

Accounts of attacks in late December by Lou-Nuer gunmen against Murle tribesman near Pibor were equally grim.

A 24-year-old woman fled her village near Pibor with her 3-year-old daughter, along with two other women with their boys, ages 10 and 11, and hid in the grass. But the attackers heard her child crying and came for them.

“They abducted my child and slit the throats of the two boys in front of us. They told us three women to run — we ran 10 meters and they started shooting. The other two women were killed right away. I was shot in the leg so I fell down. They came over to me and shot me in the head to make sure I was dead and left me there.”

Shot in the cheek and leg, she survived alone in the bush for a week by crawling to a river for water. Later she found out her mother had been killed. Her daughter is still missing.

“My only child has been taken; I feel so alone and it’s very painful,” she said. “Ten people have been killed from my family, four women and six men. Eight people have been killed from my husband’s family.”

Intercommunal violence between the Murle and Lou-Nuer tribes has been going on for centuries, mainly around the issue of cattle rustling, which brings honor to young tribal men when they successfully steal stock and increase their own herds. Some 80,000 cattle were stolen in the recent violence. The loss of cattle, the main store of wealth in these communities, leaves families without a livelihood.

But battles that were once fought with spears are now fought with guns and carry high fatalities. Vast numbers of weapons can be found in South Sudan after decades of civil war that led last July to its independence from Sudan.

The Enough Project, a human rights group, said in a report released Thursday that the Sudanese government had fueled the intercommunal violence during the civil war in order to destabilize the south. The recent violence underscores the weakness of South Sudan’s police and army, and the breakdown of traditional authority structures, just one of many threats facing the fragile new state, according to the group.

“The tip of the iceberg is the resurgence of conflict between the Lou-Nuer and Murle communities of Jonglei state, but below the surface, other potential intercommunal crises exist throughout South Sudan,” the report says. “The causes of this violence go beyond the retaliatory nature of cattle raiding and touch upon broader issues of accountability, reconciliation, political inclusion, state effectiveness, development, and the proliferation of arms among the civilian population.”

A 39-year-old man shot in the arm in the December attacks near Pibor said his family escaped death by hiding underwater in the river, with just their mouths exposed for air.

“My home has been burned to the ground, all of it, everything,” he said. “I don’t know if I can go back home — because so many are missing, many are dead.

“How can we think about our future?”

— Robyn Dixon

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/world_now/2012/01/doctors-without-borders-releases-graphic-stories-of-south-sudan-ethnic-violence.html

Civilians Bear Brunt of Jonglei State Violence in South Sudan

Joe DeCapua

An MSF doctor examines a baby in Pibor, in Jonglei State in South Sudan.

Photo: Doctors Without Borders / MSF
An MSF doctor examines a baby in Pibor, in Jonglei State in South Sudan. People who went into hiding following recent attacks continue to come in for urgently needed medical care at MSF’s re-opened facilities.

The medical aid group Doctors Without Borders said it continues to treat wounded civilians in South Sudan’s Jonglei State, where ethnic violence stemming from cattle raids has left about one thousand people dead. Many of the wounded are seeking help some three weeks after an attack on the town of Pibor and villages in Pibor County.

“We have medical teams stationed in different parts of Jonglei State. Many of the people that we are receiving after the recent violence have extremely bad wounds,” said Jean Marc Jacobs, deputy head of mission in South Sudan for the group, also known as MSF.

Festering wounds

Many of the wounded are women and children. About 60 civilians had gunshot wounds. Many others had been beaten as they tried to escape the violence. There are also many malaria cases.

“The main problem that we see,” he said, “is that people have taken a very long time to actually reach medical facilities. Many of those wounds are now badly infected.”

MSF has been operating in Jonglei State since 2005 with one hospital and two outreach clinics. Jacobs said, “It is a state where access to basic services is very limited. Hospitals, schools, access to water – all these are very, very limited. The violence is preventing people from accessing these services even more.”

He added, “We are very worried by the pattern of violence that we are witnessing. This has been going on for the last couple of years. And the impact on civilians is really becoming unacceptable.”

Missing

MSF has 156 staff members in Jonglei State and they have not been immune to the violence there.

“There are still 25 that are unaccounted for and one of our staff, sadly, has been confirmed dead. This is obviously very sad news for us and we are extremely worried about that the 25 that we are still trying to locate,’ said Jacobs.

The unaccounted for workers were all hired locally. It’s possible some have sought safety with family members, but others may still be hiding in the bush. “We fear the worst, obviously,” he said.

MSF has sent teams to various parts of the state to try to locate the missing. They often found a lot of empty villages, indicating civilians are in hiding. The concern is that some may be wounded or injured and without medical care.

Security?

There are national and international troops in Jonglei State. Jacobs said, “It is not for MSF to comment on whether or not they provide security to the people.”

The U.N. Special Envoy to South Sudan, Hilde Johnson, said more peacekeeping troops are being sent to Jonglei State. There had been concerns that those troops were outnumbered by local gunmen.

While the medical aid group said it has enough supplies to treat those in need, getting the supplies to Jonglei isn’t easy. A lack of road access means the supplies must be flown in.

“It is a major undertaking, but we are making a big investment and we are committed to the population of Jonglei,” he said.

http://www.voanews.com/english/news/africa/decapua-jonglei-msf-26jan12-138131458.html


Sitting on the edge of the bed beside his nine-year-old daughter recovering from a gunshot wounds, Mangiro recounted how he lost the rest of his family in recent tribal clashes in South Sudan’s troubled state of Jonglei.

“This child was carried by her mother, and her mother was killed”, the next day we carried the child out from under her mother,” said Mangiro, who did not give a second name.

“They were gunned down as a family. Her mother and sisters, all four of them are dead there”, he added, glancing at his surviving daughter Ngathim.

An unknown number of people — at least dozens, some fear hundreds — were killed in tribal clashes this month in Jonglei, declared a “disaster zone” by the Juba government, with the UN warning some 60,000 people had been affected by the violence and are in need of emergency aid.

In Pibor’s clinic run by medical charity Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres-MSF), Ngathim was in one of the few functioning rooms after attackers looted and ransacked the town’s only concrete structure and medical facility.

The euphoria of South Sudan’s independence six months ago after decades of civil war with the north was shared by all, but violent cracks in the new state now threaten to split it wide open.

In a dramatic escalation of bitter tit-for-tat attacks, a militia army of around 8,000 Lou Nuer youths recently marched on Pibor county, attacking villages and taking children and cows away with them, to exact revenge on the Murle whom they blame for abductions and cattle raiding.

From the air, black spots pockmarking the earth show where homes and fields were razed as attackers left villages smouldering in their wake. Large herds of stolen cattle were also seen being driven towards Nuer villages.

In Gumruk, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Pibor, the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) registered more than 2,000 people this week who fled attacks on surrounding villages.

“We were just sitting at home, and then we were attacked — these Nuer guys came in with their machetes and started cutting people and so we ran”, said Ismiah Shan, a mother of eight who saw villagers shot and slashed with knives, spears or machetes in Thaugnyang, two hours’ walk away.

The government has confirmed around 80 people killed in revenge attacks in Lou Nuer areas this week, but the UN and government cannot confirm the number of Murle killed in the first assault.

Some estimates by local government officials in the thousands are not yet verified, as teams asses a vast area lacking roads.

Access difficulties and a state the size of Bangladesh have been cited as the reason why UN peacekeepers and government troops failed to stop the deadly column advancing.

Others say troops were dispatched late and clearly outnumbered, or were hesitant to intervene in a tribal conflict that last year killed around 1,100 people in a series of cattle raids.

When the violence started, Philip Mama Alan fled his village of Lawol, three hours’ walk from Gumruk, but ran into more attackers.

“These people came and took some of my colleagues. One of them came and held my hand and said ‘sit down’. Before I sat down, I saw them kill my colleagues and so I ran,” he said.

Running for his life, Alan described the scene as a “slaughter”, saying the men were gunned down and women knifed.

He does not want revenge, just for the government to build roads to bring trade into the neglected state, that was one of the worst hit during the decades of civil war with the north.

In the meantime, the huddled masses sitting in glaring sun outside food distribution centres in Pibor and Gumruk were not thinking about home.

Many had been living off wild berries and said there is nothing to go back to after they saw villages destroyed. Others seemed to be taking matters into their own hands in an effort to regain their livelihood.

WFP head of security Wame Duguvesi said that in Pibor this week the body of a Nuer army officer was discovered, while the death toll from other suspected revenge attacks continues to climb in increasingly remote areas far from the security forces.

“Peaceful dialogue is the only way forward to reach a final and durable settlement to their differences”, said Kouider Zerrouk, spokesman for the UN Mission in South Sudan, who urged communities to end the extremely worrying cycle of violence.

“The reconciliatory peace process must restart immediately”, he said, after peace talks between the two tribes fell apart in early December.

http://www.africasia.com/services/news_africa/article.php?ID=CNG.34be495e35b48c3d695e48eec41f8832.151

Just A Few Months Old, South Sudan Already In Turmoil

By MICHELE KELEMEN

People who escaped ethnic violence in Jonglei state wait for food rations at a World Food Program distribution center on Thursday. South Sudan gained independence just six months ago, and already ethnic tensions inside the new country have forced tens of thousands to flee their homes.

EnlargeMichael Onyiego/APPeople who escaped ethnic violence in Jonglei state wait for food rations at a World Food Program distribution center on Thursday. South Sudan gained independence just six months ago, and already ethnic tensions inside the new country have forced tens of thousands to flee their homes.
Map Of Sudan And South Sudan

Credit: Alyson Hurt/NPR

South Sudan gained independence just six months ago, but the country is already plagued by ethnic violence at home and ongoing tensions with its previous rulers in Sudan.

Potential humanitarian crises are brewing in both Sudans, and U.S. diplomats are sounding frustrated that the two are not talking to each other enough.

U.S. officials still don’t really have a handle on the violence that exploded this month in a remote part of South Sudan. But U.S. envoy Princeton Lyman says the deadly cattle-raiding and ethnic clashes that have forced tens of thousands to flee shows that the new government’s reach is still weak.

“There are real fragile points in this society and years of neglect of their basic needs,” Lyman says. “The government is going to have to move very, very fast to get a handle on it and not let ethnic politics get in the way.”

Humanitarian groups are desperately trying to reach people in South Sudan’s troubled Jonglei state. Noah Gottschalk of Oxfam America says the violence threatens the new nation’s plans to develop its agricultural sector.

“When you see this type of displacement happening in this short period of time, where you see the challenges cattle keepers are facing … it’s really worrying,” he says. “If [agriculture] is what the government of South Sudan pins its hopes on, this will need to be addressed.”

Food aid from the U.S. is delivered Thursday as part of efforts by the World Food Program to assist people displaced by fighting in the South Sudan state of Jonglei.

EnlargeMichael Onyiego/APFood aid from the U.S. is delivered Thursday as part of efforts by the World Food Program to assist people displaced by fighting in the South Sudan state of Jonglei.

U.S. Sending Military Advisers

The White House announced recently that it is sending five military advisers to help United Nations peacekeepers, who warned of the latest violence but mainly stayed on the sidelines.

The Obama administration also cleared a legal hurdle to provide military assistance. Lyman says the goal is to help a former liberation movement that fought for independence become a real army with civilian oversight.

“Right now we are looking at help for establishing a stronger Ministry of Defense, command-and-control capability, human-rights monitoring and better overall organization,” he says. “We have no plans under way for lethal assistance to South Sudan.”

One of Lyman’s former aides, Cameron Hudson, says the U.S. needs to show more tough love with South Sudan. Hudson is now with the Committee on Conscience at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and he’s worried about what former rebels now in government might do during this volatile time.

“Politically their instincts, I think, are in the right place, but when faced with really overwhelming violence, tribal violence and intercommunal violence around them, there are tendencies and temptations on the ground that make doing the right thing difficult on a day-to-day basis,” he says. “So the United States and other allied countries, I think, have a real opportunity and responsibility to keep Sudan on track.”

There is frustration, but there is frustration that both countries have failed to establish the kind of relationships, or even any of the basic institutions for dealing with their bilateral problems. There’s almost no high-level communications between the two.

– U.S. envoy Princeton Lyman on the tension between Sudan and South Sudan

The U.S. is also worried about the relationship between the two Sudans. The north accuses the south of arming rebels. Lyman can’t rule that out, though the south denies it is meddling.

“There is frustration, but there is frustration that both countries have failed to establish the kind of relationships, or even any of the basic institutions for dealing with their bilateral problems,” Lyman says. “There’s almost no high-level communications between the two.”

Humanitarian Concerns

Now there are fears of famine in those areas where Sudan has been cracking down on rebel movements.

“We’ve gone to the government, we’ve gone to countries around the world to say, ‘Look, this is a catastrophe, but a preventable one,’ ” Lyman says. He says that the U.S. has urged other countries to tell Sudan’s government that it must allow in the United Nations.

The U.N. Security Council, though, has been deadlocked on the issue, says Hudson, the former State Department official.

“What China and Russia see is a proxy war,” says Hudson. “So they are reticent to take really strong action like the U.S. government would like to see because they think there isn’t just one side involved here. Both sides are at fault.”

And there is another brewing conflict between the two Sudans that the U.S. is trying to manage. They are fighting over their shared oil wealth, and U.S. officials warn that if this isn’t resolved soon, both countries could face a serious financial crisis.

http://www.npr.org/2012/01/15/145188077/just-a-few-months-old-s-sudan-already-in-turmoil


The euphoria of South Sudan’s independence six months ago after decades of civil war with the north has been replaced by fears of escalating tribal violence
AFP , Saturday 14 Jan 2012
South Sudan

In this photo of Thursday, Jan.12, 2012, victims of ethnic violence in Jonglei, state, South Sudan, wait in line at the World Food Program distribution center in Pibor to receive emergency food rations . (Photo: AP)

Sitting on the edge of the bed beside his nine-year-old daughter recovering from a gunshot wound, Mangiro recounted how he lost the rest of his family in recent tribal clashes in South Sudan’s troubled state of Jonglei. “This child was carried by her mother, and her mother was killed,” the next day we carried the child out from under her mother,” said Mangiro, who did not give a second name.

“They were gunned down as a family. Her mother and sisters, all four of them are dead there,” he added, glancing at his surviving daughter Ngathim.

An unknown number of people — at least dozens, some fear hundreds — were killed in tribal clashes this month in Jonglei, declared a “disaster zone” by the Juba government, with the UN warning some 60,000 people had been affected by the violence and are in need of emergency aid.

In Pibor’s clinic run by medical charity Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres-MSF), Ngathim was in one of the few functioning rooms after attackers looted and ransacked the town’s only concrete structure and medical facility.

In a dramatic escalation of bitter tit-for-tat attacks, a militia army of around 8,000 Lou Nuer youths recently marched on Pibor county, attacking villages and taking children and cows away with them, to exact revenge on the Murle whom they blame for abductions and cattle raiding.

From the air, black spots pockmarking the earth show where homes and fields were razed as attackers left villages smouldering in their wake. Large herds of stolen cattle were also seen being driven towards Nuer villages.

In Gumruk, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Pibor, the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) registered more than 2,000 people this week who fled attacks on surrounding villages. “We were just sitting at home, and then we were attacked. These Nuer guys came in with their machetes and started cutting people and so we ran,” said Ismiah Shan, a mother of eight who saw villagers shot and slashed with knives, spears or machetes in Thaugnyang, two hours’ walk away.

The government has confirmed around 80 people killed in revenge attacks in Lou Nuer areas this week, but the UN and government cannot confirm the number of Murle killed in the first assault. Some estimates by local government officials in the thousands are not yet verified, as teams asses a vast area lacking roads.

Access difficulties and a state the size of Bangladesh have been cited as the reason why UN peacekeepers and government troops failed to stop the deadly column advancing. Others say troops were dispatched late and were clearly outnumbered, or were hesitant to intervene in a tribal conflict that last year killed around 1,100 people in a series of cattle raids.

When the violence started, Philip Mama Alan fled his village of Lawol, three hours’ walk from Gumruk, but ran into more attackers. “These people came and took some of my colleagues. One of them came and held my hand and said ‘sit down’. Before I sat down, I saw them kill my colleagues and so I ran,” he said.

Running for his life, Alan described the scene as a “slaughter”, saying the men were gunned down and women knifed. He does not want revenge, just for the government to build roads to bring trade into the neglected state, that was one of the worst hit during the decades of civil war with the north.

In the meantime, the huddled masses sitting in the glaring sun outside food distribution centres in Pibor and Gumruk were not thinking about home. Many had been living off wild berries and said there is nothing to go back to after they saw villages destroyed. Others seemed to be taking matters into their own hands in an effort to regain their livelihood.

WFP head of security Wame Duguvesi said that in Pibor this week the body of a Nuer army officer was discovered, while the death toll from other suspected revenge attacks continues to climb in increasingly remote areas far from the security forces.

“Peaceful dialogue is the only way forward to reach a final and durable settlement to their differences,” said Kouider Zerrouk, spokesman for the UN mission in South Sudan, who urged communities to end the worrying cycle of violence.

“The reconciliatory peace process must restart immediately,” he said, after peace talks between the two tribes collapsed in early December.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/31698/World/Region/Horrors-of-tribal-violence-devastate-South-Sudanes.aspx


AFP) –

JUBA — South Sudan’s army is in “full control” of a flashpoint town, after thousands of villagers fled into the bush to escape a marauding militia army from a rival tribe, officials said Tuesday.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjjPEESWmXc&feature=endscreen&NR=1

A column of some 6,000 armed youths from the Lou Nuer tribe marched on the remote town of Pibor in troubled Jonglei state, home to the rival Murle people, who they blame for cattle raiding and have vowed to exterminate.

“Pibor is under the full control of the government, and the Lou Nuer have been ordered to return to their homes, and they are starting to do so,” Information Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin said.

Gunmen burned thatched huts and looted a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders in the worst flare-up in a dispute that has left more than 1,000 dead in recent months and threatened to destabilise the world’s newest country.

The government and the United Nations — which has warned the violence could lead to a “major tragedy” — were beefing up their forces in the area.

Lise Grande, the UN humanitarian coordinator for South Sudan, said “probably well over twenty thousand” people had fled into the bush.

Ethnic violence, cattle raids and reprisal attacks in the vast eastern state left over 1,100 people dead and forced some 63,000 from their homes last year, according to UN reports based on local authorities and assessment teams.

Tit-for-tat cattle raiding is common in a grossly underdeveloped region awash with guns and left in ruins by decades of war with northern Sudanese forces, who fuelled conflict by backing proxy militia forces across the south.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjjPEESWmXc&feature=endscreen&NR=1

New South Sudan rebels vow to attack Juba within a month

separation

January 3, 2012 (LONDON) – South Sudan’s newest rebel movement has told Sudan Tribune that it plans attack the capital Juba within the month and denies it is backed by Khartoum.

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The distance between Renk, where the new rebels say they are based and South Sudan’s capital Juba is around 800km (Google Maps)

The leader of the South Sudan People Liberation Movement/Army (SSPLM/A), Tong Lual Ayat, claims to have a force of 5,000 soldiers and plans to double that figure with new recruits and defections from the South Sudanese military (SPLA).

Ayat, a former member of South Sudan’s ruling party – the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) – said that he had begun his rebellion because of the corrupt and ineffective way the country is being governed by President Salva Kiir.

South Sudan became independent in July 2011 under Kiir’s leadership, as part of a 2005 peace deal with north Sudan.

Like other rebellions in South Sudan the new group state corruption, bad governance and lack of human rights and freedoms as some of the reasons for their insurgency.

But in a departure from the aims of other rebels the SSPLM/A declared in its manifesto at the end of December that it wanted to South Sudan to revert being governed by Khartoum under a confederation.

However, following the “negative reactions” to the announcement the nascent movement scrapped the idea just days later.

The Unity and Jonglei state-based South Sudan Liberation Army (SSLA), the country’s most active rebel group, shortly after the original announcement said that they opposed confederation.

“The people of South Sudan voted overwhelmingly for separation and nobody can reverse that. The democratic choice of the people of South Sudan has to be respected” the SSLA’s Bapiny Monytuil told Sudan Tribune.

The SSLA warned Ayat that if he did not change his manifesto other southern rebels would not cooperate with him.

The hastily dropped proposal, Ayat said, was for the two Sudan’s to create a European or East African Community type system.

Ayat said that because of these concerns the article had been dropped and replaced with a statement calling for “regime change in Juba.”

“Any inconvenience caused by this article is sincerely regretted”, the group said in a 1 January press release.

In 2009 Ayat left the ruling SPLM and formed the United Democratic Party (UDP) but claims he was arrested for starting the new party and subsequently his party did not join the government after the 2010 elections.

In a email to Sudan Tribune on 1 January, Ayat said that South Sudanese were fed up with the current government and the country needed an alternative. The SSPLM/A’s planned attack on Juba will be called “Rescue South Sudan from Oppressors”, he said.

Ayat says that he has no connection with Khartoum and is trying to form a coalition with other rebel and opposition groups in South Sudan as well as encourage defections from the army.

Juba and Khartoum have routinely accused each other of backing the rebel groups in each others territory.

The new rebels claim to be based in Renk in Upper Nile state near the border with north Sudan.

Renk and Juba are at other ends of the country, with Juba close to the border with Uganda. The SSPLM/A would have to travel around 800km through difficult terrain to reach Juba.

Similar warnings, given by other rebel groups that they were going imminently attack and take control of major towns in South Sudan have, so far, not transpired.

(ST)

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