Posts Tagged ‘ethnic violence’

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.

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 

Tuesday, 7 February 2012, 3:51 pm
Press Release: UN News

New York, Feb 2 2012 6:10PM
The United Nations relief chief today visited areas in South Sudan hit by recent ethnic violence and met some of the victims of a vicious cycle of raids and reprisal attacks, describing what she had seen as “a terrible situation” with people having lost loved ones, property and livelihood.

“I am extremely concerned that humanitarian premises were specifically targeted, and we lost critical supplies, which slowed our relief operation,” said Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, speaking to reporters after visiting Pibor and Walgak in Jonglei state.

“I urge all parties to respect humanitarian premises and personnel, so that we can help the people of Jonglei,” she said.

Deadly clashes between the Lou Nuer and Murle communities in late December and early January displaced tens of thousands of civilians and prompted UN agencies to launch a major humanitarian operation to assist those in need.

“We are working to meet basic life-saving needs – food, water, medicine, household items. Many of the areas we need to reach are very remote and can only be reached by air, making this operation hugely expensive compared to assistance delivered by road,” said Ms. Amos, who is also the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator.

She emphasized her concern over the humanitarian situation in the country as a whole, saying it remained “extremely precarious” and could deteriorate fast, with food shortages having already worsened this year.

“If oil production is shut down, many people will feel the effects – humanitarian needs will inevitably increase, and the combined efforts of the Government, the aid community and the donors will not be enough. The scope of this crisis cannot be ignored,” she said.

Authorities in South Sudan have threatened to shut down oil production because of a lack of progress in talks to resolve a dispute with neighbouring Sudan over revenues and tariffs for the use of Sudan’s infrastructure to export the commodity.

The UN and humanitarian partners have this year requested donors to provide over $760 million for humanitarian needs in South Sudan. “But we can only do so much. Government leadership is vital,” said Ms. Amos.

She said the UN appreciated Government leadership in the highly complex return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their villages of origin, but stressed that returns must be voluntary, and conducted in safety and dignity.

“Since my last visit here in 2010, signs of change in South Sudan are already visible, and I can see it here in Juba. But perhaps the most significant change is in the hearts of the people, proud of their hard-won nation, the newest independent country in the world. The world must not let them down,” said Ms. Amos.
Feb 2 2012 6:10PM
For more details go to UN News Centre at

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New York, US – The World Food Programme (WFP) said it would scale up food assistance to reach 80,000 people affected by the recent escalation of ethnic violence in South Sudan’s Jonglei state. WFP Deputy Executive Director, Ramiro Lopes da Silva, made this known on Tuesday after a visit to the region.

The WFP official said ‘the violence in Jonglei is only one of the many challenges that South Sudan is currently facing, and the world must respond to ensure that the people of South Sudan have the support they need to build a peaceful and prosperous country’.

In a statement, da Silva said ‘many of the women I met in Pibor and Akobo had lost their children and had no one to depend on but the humanitarian agencies on the ground’.

He noted that deadly clashes between the Lou Nuer and Murle communities in recent weeks had displaced tens of thousands of civilians.

The statement quoted da Silva as saying that the development had prompted UN agencies to launch a major humanitarian operation to assist those in need.

The WFP official said: ‘part of WFP’s response includes providing a 15-day emergency food ration to displaced persons who have been affected by the attacks, as well as using logistics expertise to help other humanitarian agencies overcome challenges to establish a way for people to access their services’.

He also said said that WFP had already deployed three helicopters, an airplane and 28 trucks to deliver ‘not just food but also shelter items and medical supplies to remote corners’, adding that ‘one of its priorities is to distribute food before the rain starts in March as 90 per cent of locations targeted for assistance will become inaccessible by road.’.

The UN agency also emphasized the need to help affected households cultivate their own crops in time for the next harvest in August.

‘Ten locations in Jonglei have already been reached by WFP. Five of these are located in Pibor county, including Pibor town and surrounding villages, Lekuangole, Gumruk, Labrab and Boma.

‘Five more are located in recently affected areas in the northern parts of the state. Initial emergency food assistance has been provided in Duk Padiet, while distributions are ongoing in Akobo and Walgak, Yuai in Urur county and Waat in Nyirol county,’ the statement added.

Pana 01/02/2012

Sudan, South Sudan Chambers of Commerce Discuss Trade Relations
Sudan Vision
Khartoum – The Sudanese Businessmen and Employers Federation (SBEF) and South SudaneseChamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture discussed methods to activate economic and commercial relations between the two countries. The meeting, co-chaired by 

South Sudan: WFP scales up food assistance for 80000 people
Afrique en Ligue
New York, US – The World Food Programme (WFP) said it would scale up food assistance to reach 80000 people affected by the recent escalation of ethnic violence in South Sudan’s Jonglei state. WFP Deputy Executive Director, Ramiro Lopes da Silva, 

UN investigates reports of South Sudan massacre
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The UN mission in South Sudan is investigating reports of a massacre of nearly 80 people by armed men in uniforms in Africa’s youngest nation, the United Nations said on Wednesday. “According to local sources, 

January 19, 2012 (JUBA) – The death toll resulting from the Monday attack on Duk county of Dinka community by the Murle ethnic group in Jonglei state has risen to over 80 people confirmed dead and many more still missing as United Nations warns of hate statements.

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On Monday the Murle armed youth attacked Duk Padiet, a payam headquarters, briefly capturing it killing 47 people and burning the town before they were expelled.

However, a member of parliament, Abiel Chan, who visited the affected area on Thursday, said the number confirmed dead had increased to 83 with 48 men, 26 women and 9 children killed, while many more were still missing.

He also said thousands of residents were still displaced.

Meanwhile the Head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Hilde F. Johnson has called upon local and national leaders to halt the use of hate language that continues to escalate tribal clashes in Jonglei State.

Johnson in a press conference in Juba on Thursday condemned these hate are urged the South Sudanese authorities to bring those responsible for the violence to “the full force of the law”.

“We are deeply concerned about the hate messages that have been made by some individuals and groups. The statements could incite systematic ethnic violence. (..) Such statements are in violation of both international law and South Sudan’s domestic law. Any statements that could incite ethnically based violence are totally unacceptable. The United Nation condemns them in the strongest terms.”

The UN official regretted that ” the chain of retaliatory violence continues unbroken”, alluding to the recent attacks on Lou Nuer and Dinka Duk in the vast state by the Murle.

Speaking about the UNMISS role in the protection of civilians, the Hilde said the Mission has deployed around half of its “combat-ready personnel” to the heavily populated areas in Jonglei like Pibor and Likuongole where civilians were under greatest threat.

The UN official said the early warning system implemented by the UNMISS allowed to save thousands of Mule during last December attacks by the Lou Nuer who moved in thousands to Pibor.

However she admitted the UN failure to implement this system on the recent assaults by the Murle. “It’s a very different way of operating than the attacks we have are now seeing in the Lou Nuer and the Dinka areas. The attacks are in smaller groups, speedy, unpredictable, follows no particular pattern.”

“And as I mentioned, if we were to predict those we would be doing miracles because we can not predict exactly which village they would attack.”

South Sudan’s government says it prepares for deployment of more troops to create buffer zones separating the three communities of Lou-Nuer, Dinka and Murle in order to deter retaliatory attacks among the rival tribes.

The UN SRSG also urged the government to deploy more of its organized forces in the troubled Jonglei region, and strongly warned sections of the media, leaders and public to desist from jumping into conclusion on unverified figures of casualties in the aftermath of the conflict.

The government, Johnson said, should conduct an investigation into the perpetrators of this cycle of violence, and that those found guilty should be held accountable.

“The cycle of violence in Jonglei has caused huge suffering to all the people in the area. It has to end,” she said, further reiterating UNMISS concerns on the deterioration of the humanitarian situations of the people.

The UN humanitarian community, Johnson said, has launched one of the most complex and expensive emergency operations in South Sudan since the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), meant to assist 60,000 people among the 90,000 affected people in the area.

Lise Grande, the deputy SRSG, is due to address the media this Friday to present more details on the current humanitarian situation in Jonglei and other parts of the South Sudan.


kaisudankid.jpg(Photos courtesy Kids Alive International)

South Sudan (MNN) ― They dared to hope. On July 09, 2011, the Republic of South Sudan declared itself independent from Sudan (north) under the terms of a 2005 peace agreement that ended decades of civil war.

The new nation was feted and gifted with recognitions as a United Nations state, a member of the African Union, and as a member state of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development.

Six months later, the fledgling nation is fighting desperately to stay away from civil war, once again. Matt Parker with Kids Alive International describes what they’re seeing in South Sudan. “Over the past few months, there’s been growth in a lot of the tensions and violence, particularly in some of the Border States both in Sudan and in South Sudan. That’s resulted in a large number of refugees.”

Recent reports concur. Parker explains, “There’s a lot of ethnic violence between the tribes. This has resulted in a large number of deaths, displacement of people, abductions. That just creates a downward spiral.” Violence by tribal militias in Jonglei state forced 50,000 to flee. 57 people, most of them women and children, died five days ago in the onslaught.

The risk, according analysts, is that South Sudan could become a failed state as the government struggles to end tribal and rebel violence, widespread corruption and build up state institutions. In other words, it’s chaos. “A lot of disagreement over land issues, over access to water. Some of the tribes in South Sudan have a real sense that they have been marginalized by the government; added to that we’ve got a major food crisis.”

As a result, thousands of southerners living in north Sudan have been migrating to the south. As more refugees return to South Sudan, the problem of homeless children in the town of Wau is escalating. Parker says, “There’s a huge issue with street kids in pretty much in every city. They get involved in gangs, glue sniffing, substance abuse, violence. This is creating huge problems in South Sudan’s towns.”

Kids Alive focuses on the entire child. “We’ve developed a children’s home for some of these kids, to get them off the streets and to help them grow up in a caring environment. We’re seeing some great success with the kids that we currently have.”

The team focuses on meeting the physical, emotional, AND spiritual needs of each child through Christ-centered care, education, and ministry. However, the need is fast-paced. Kids Alive just bought more land to meet that growth. “We’re looking to build a couple of Children’s homes with 40 to 50 children provided with facilities where they’re loved and where they have the opportunity to hear about the good news of Jesus.”

Plus, Parker notes, they’re trying to develop something to help families that are trying to stay together. “We’re also looking to develop education programs in the community. We’re looking to develop an education program where we’re supporting families.”

Kids Alive International currently runs a Children’s Home for almost 20 vulnerable children in Wau. With such a great need in this area, there are plans to grow this critical ministry as soon as we are able. “Pray for the kids in our program, for our staff who do a great job under difficult circumstances, pray that we would be able to grow and reach out and help more kids in the communities where we work.”

Check our Featured Links section for more.

By Jamie Ingram/Doha

Escalating violence in South Sudan’s oil-producing Jonglei state vividly highlights the severe challenges facing the newly-independent country.
Six months after gaining independence, the recent clashes echo pre-independence concerns that without the unifying factor of conflict with the north, South Sudan’s volatile tribes would descend into internecine violence. While there is some truth to this notion, there is more to the situation than inherent tribal mistrust.
Thus far the Juba government has been unable to restore stability and has classified Jonglei as a disaster zone. The UN reports estimate more than 50,000 have been displaced in clashes while local commissioners claim that more than 3,000 people have been killed in the past week.
Far from being unusual, this is merely the latest, if bloodiest, violence to afflict Jonglei in recent months. Until he was killed by government forces last month, rebels loyal to General George Athor had been engaged in an insurgency against the Juba government since April 2010.
The latest clashes have prompted observers to once again raise the spectre of inter-tribal ethnic violence; a fear which has deep resonance in this part of Africa.
However, this is a somewhat simplistic take on events and blaming the violence solely on tribal differences diverts government and international attention away from issues whose resolution could ease tensions.
This is by no means the first instance of clashes between the two tribes who inhabit the swampy territory of Jonglei. Clashes between the two are often prompted by conflict over water or cattle. South Sudan is an extremely poor country despite its oil reserves and cattle represent a vital source of income, not to mention prestige, for many of its citizens.
Basic economic factors such as unemployment are, therefore, a key driving force behind South Sudan’s tribal conflicts. No simple solution exists as the economy remains overly dependent on oil revenues and the country’s limited infrastructure severely hampers the business environment, while it suffers from one of the highest illiteracy rates in the world.
The lengthy civil wars between the north and south, while ending in 2005, continues to severely impact both countries. In the south, the proliferation of small arms among the general population contributes significantly to events such as those occurring in Jonglei, greatly raising the risk of bloodshed.
It has also led to the militarisation of many South Sudanese to the extent that the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) is comprised of up to 200,000 people. Demobilisation is rightly seen as a key priority for President Salva Kiir’s government in order to reduce expenditure, even though this brings with it significant risk.
One difficulty concerns the demoralisation of the army with the incorporation of the rebels into the vacated positions. Last week Jonglei state officials announced that they were hopeful up to 1,000 rebels formerly loyal to General Athor would be reintegrated into the SPLA.
For those effectively sacked from the army, this can stir up bitter resentment and it diminishes the legitimacy of the government and the armed forces.
The government’s inability to prevent this latest violence and protect its civilian population has underscored its lack of sovereign control throughout much of the country. Through its apparent unwillingness to intervene fully in tribal violence the government risks further losing legitimacy, while such a policy sends a message to its population suggesting that rather than rely on the central state to resolve conflicts, they should act themselves which results in increasing concerns of further escalations of violence.
Fundamentally, the fragile nature of South Sudan’s society necessitates caution from the Dinka-dominated government keen to ensure it is not seen as favouring particular tribes. While understandable, the disadvantages of such a strategy are especially evident given recent events.
Such internal turmoil has wide ranging ramifications for South Sudan, diverting the government’s attention from implementing vital economic reforms to improve the business environment, hampering infrastructure development and deterring foreign investors and businesses. Such a vicious circle would further deny the government funds vital for state-building.
The unfortunate truth is that South Sudan will likely continue to experience similar outbreaks of violence between tribes as a result of the economic challenges facing the country and a proliferation of small arms. There is no quick fix for such problems; inherent structural issues such as the lack of education, employment, infrastructure and health services must be targeted and only then can the spectre of tribal violence be dismissed. Such developments cannot be implemented quickly.

*** Jamie Ingram is a Researcher at RUSI, the Royal United Services Institute, Qatar .

Concerned Citizens Say: Wear White for Peace on CPA Day

JUBA   5th January 2012
South Sudan welcomed its first full year of freedom amid reports of ethnic violence across the Country, with the highest peak in Jonglei state. In the face of these horrible events, little was heard from ordinary South Sudanese on the subject. As a response to this, a new group, ‘Concerned Citizens X South Sudan’, was formed this week. Concerned Citizens represents all people of SouthSudan who wish to see an end to ethnic violence in our country.
The name of the group is meaningful. We are concerned by the current violent and unstable situation in South Sudan. The concept of ‘Citizen X’ expresses our view that we are all people of the same nation and do not wish to be primarily identified by our tribes. The character ‘X’ symbolises our condemnation of violence, war, hate speech and tribalism. It is also accessible, as it is easily recognisable by all people, whether or not they can read and write. We have incorporated the name of South Sudan because this is our land and we are proud to be part of it.
Concerned Citizens X South Sudan was formed to give a chance for all concerned South Sudanese citizens to participate in stopping violence, inside and between our communities, and to personally help in alleviating the suffering of those of our compatriots who are directly affected. It is not enough for us to say that our government or the international community must clean up these problems; we are all obligated, as citizens, to take responsibility for the problems in our communities.
Concerned Citizens wishes to emphasise that the timing of its formation does not imply support or condemnation of either party to any current conflict;  we acknowledge that this violence is a result of grievences that have been unaddressed and unresolved.  Although the current news coverage relates to Jonglei, it is clear that such violence is a direct threat to all South Sudanese, whatever their state of origin. The type of inter-communal violence referred to here has touched every payam in our nation. We aim to speak out on all subsequent inter-community violence on behalf of the aggrieved.
The new group is calling for all peace-loving South Sudanese, and our supporters, to demonstrate their commitment to peace during this season of celebration in two simple ways:
–   by wearing white clothing or white armbands on CPA Day/Referendum Day, the 9th January 2012. In so doing, we hope to make the point that peace-lovers in our new nation far outnumber those who are engaged in planning or perpetrating violence among us. The aim is to make it possible for all peace-loving South Sudanese to make their voices heard in a silent, non-confrontational, cost-free and yet visible manner. The wearing of white may seem trivial. However, this action has been carefully chosen for good reasons. The colour white is identified internationally as the colour of peace. Most people, however poor, have at least one item of white clothing, or even a piece of white cloth, which they can tie around their arm as a sign of solidarity. Therefore, everybody who agrees with the message of peace is able to participate, regardless of their income.
–   by donating dry, canned and non-perishable foodstuffs, clothing, cooking materials, blankets and tents, in order to assist those innocent civilians, whatever their tribe or origin, who are suffering as a result of displacement. In this way, we hope to make the point that South Sudanese are capable of taking care of our own. Distribution modalities are currenty being sought in partnership with bodies which have existing logistical networks.
The current events in Jonglei state have attracted widespread and overwhelmingly negative attention from local and international media, leading to the use of terms such as ‘genocide’, ‘ethnic cleansing’ and ‘failed state’ in relation to South Sudan. Concerned Citizens feels that such terms are unhelpful, whether used by South Sudanese or by international observers. As evidenced by last year’s near-99% vote for secession, South Sudanese are overwhelmingly committed to building a viable, independent and free nation. Simply by displaying white clothing on the 9th January 2012, South Sudanese will be able to begin combatting the view, so often voiced by those who wish us ill, that we are in some way destined to destroy our precious new nation through civil war and internal conflict. We want to show the world a new identity, as people who can take an active role in shaping our own destiny
Concerned Citizens X South Sudan is newly formed, and is in the process of registering as an indigenous, non-profit, nongovernmental organization. Concerned Citizens X South Sudan is not affiliated to any political party, governmental or non-governmental structure. We welcome the particiption of all peace-loving South Sudanese and the support of sympathetic non South Sudanese.  At this stage we have no mechanism to account for cash dontions; however, in-kind assistance in our early weeks would be most appreciated.
Concerned Citizens can be contacted in the following ways:
via facebook:                        concernedcitizensxsouthsudan
via email:         
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