Posts Tagged ‘fighting in Jonglei’

South Sudan

More than 3,000 people were killed in South Sudan in brutal massacres last week in bloody ethnic violence that forced thousands to flee, the top local official in the affected area said.

“There have been mass killings, a massacre,” said Joshua Konyi, commissioner for Pibor county in Jonglei state.

“We have been out counting the bodies and we calculate so far that 2,182 women and children were killed and 959 men died.”

United Nations and South Sudanese army officials have yet to confirm the death tolls and the claims from the remote region could not be independently verified.

If confirmed, the killings would be the worst outbreak of ethnic violence ever seen in the fledgling nation, which split from Sudan in July.

A column of 6,000 rampaging armed youths from the Lou Nuer tribe last week marched on the remote town of Pibor, home to the rival Murle people, whom they blame for cattle raiding and have vowed to exterminate.

The Lou Nuer gunmen attacked Pibor and only withdrew after government troops opened fire.

More than 1,000 children are missing, feared abducted, while tens of thousands of cows were stolen, Mr Konyi added, who comes from the Murle ethnic group.

UN humanitarian coordinator for South Sudan Lise Grande said earlier this week that she feared “tens, perhaps hundreds” could have died.

South Sudan army spokesman Philip Aguer he was still awaiting reports from forces on the ground.

“For the assessment to be credible, they must have gone into the villages to count all the bodies.”

The UN estimates ethnic violence, cattle raids and reprisal attacks in the vast eastern state left more than 1,100 people dead and forced 63,000 from their homes last year.


Accounts Emerge in South Sudan of 3,000 Deaths in Ethnic Violence

By N

NAIROBI, Kenya — More than 3,000 villagers were massacred in the recent burst of communal violence in South Sudan, local officials said Thursday, with the fledging South Sudanese government, which just won its independence six months ago, seemingly unable to stem the bloodshed.

Thousands of armed fighters attacked the town of Pibor.

If the death toll is confirmed — United Nations officials and South Sudanese Army officers have yet to do that, saying they were still collecting information from the conflict zone — this would be one of the deadliest clashes in South Sudan in recent memory.

In the past two weeks, United Nations aircraft had been tracking an unusually large column of 6,000 to 8,000 heavily armed fighters from the Lou Nuer ethnic group as it advanced toward the town of Pibor, cutting a swath of destruction across the savanna. Pibor is the hometown of the Lou Nuer’s traditional rival, the Murle, and the two groups have been locked in a tit-for-tat cattle rustling feud for years, with the death toll steadily rising each round.

According to Joshua Konyi, the commissioner of Pibor County and a Murle, 2,182 women and children and 959 men were killed, 1,293 children were abducted and 375,186 cows were stolen.

“We’ve been counting the bodies,” Mr. Konyi said by telephone from Pibor on Thursday night. “It’s really a genocide. If you come, you will see.”

He said Lou Nuer fighters had mercilessly hunted down civilians who were cowering in the bush. Other Murle leaders said hundreds of women had been chased into a river, where they drowned.

Earlier this week, United Nations officials had a much lower estimate, describing a death toll “in the tens, if not the hundreds” and saying that several corpses had already been unearthed. United Nations peacekeepers had tried to stop the fighters from storming the town of Pibor, but when it was clear that the peacekeepers and government soldiers were vastly outnumbered, Pibor’s residents were advised to flee. As many as 50,000 people scattered across the area. At first, United Nations officials believed that the early warnings had saved many lives.

“At this stage, it’s very difficult to get an accurate picture,” Kouider Zerrouk, a United Nations spokesman in South Sudan, said Thursday. “We’re not in a position to confirm any figures, and we’re in the process of assessing their validity.”

The Pibor area is one of the most rugged and isolated parts of South Sudan, surrounded by thick forests and swamps. With thousands of fighters still roaming around and many roads inaccessible, United Nations officials said they would not know the full extent of the violence for several more days.

South Sudan’s military spokesman, Col. Philip Aguer, said, “I’m sure many people died.” But the army, like the United Nations, was waiting for more details, he said.

“I feel bad,” Colonel Aguer said. Referring to the South Sudanese Army, he continued: “It is regrettable that the SPLA couldn’t stop this. This region is in conflict. This is not the first incident of this kind, and it will not be the last.”

The cattle-rustling tradition in this part of South Sudan goes back generations. Both the Murle and the Lou Nuer prize cows and often lionize the young warriors who steal them. Years ago, the warriors clashed with spears. Now, they use AK-47s.

Last year, the Lou Nuer attacked several Murle villages, stole cattle and killed hundreds. The Murle responded by attacking several Lou Nuer villages, stealing cattle and killing hundreds. The two groups often abduct women and children during these raids. Church elders tried to intervene, but talks broke down in December. Then the Lou Nuer began amassing a huge force of heavily armed youths. Lou Nuer elders said it was time to wipe out the smaller Murle group, once and for all.

In late December, the column of Lou Nuer fighters began marching toward Pibor, burning huts along the way. The United Nations rushed 400 peacekeepers to Pibor, trying to defend the town alongside about 400 South Sudanese government troops.

But as Colonel Aguer said, “800 can’t stop 6,000.”

When asked why so few soldiers were defending Pibor when it was clear an enormous force of Lou Nuer fighters was headed that way, he replied, “It’s a long story.”

He elaborated that government troops were stretched thin across South Sudan, especially because of all the tensions along the oil-rich boundary between South Sudan and its northern neighbor, Sudan. The border has yet to be demarcated and could prime a major conflict between the two nations. Before South Sudan seceded from Sudan in July, the South Sudanese had been fighting a guerrilla war for independence for decades.

“The mission of the army is an external threat,” Colonel Aguer said. “Nobody articulated such an internal threat would happen.”

But, he added, “there’s a need for some adjustment.”

Murle leaders say the government essentially abandoned them in their time of need. Thousands of people remain camped out in the bush, “people with no food, no water, and this is my problem to get them help,” said Mr. Konyi, the Pibor commissioner.

Their rage vented, the Lou Nuer fighters now appear to be heading home. Mr. Konyi even described Pibor on Thursday night as calm. But others say the next outburst is only a matter of time.

“To me, this can’t stop,” said David Ibon, a Murle pastor. “This isn’t just cattle rustling. This is war.”

Accounts Emerge in South Sudan of 3000 Deaths in Ethnic Violence
New York Times
NAIROBI, Kenya — More than 3000 villagers were massacred in the recent burst of communal violence in South Sudan, local officials said Thursday, with the fledging South Sudanesegovernment, which just won its independence six months ago, 
3000 killed in South Sudan massacres
ABC Online
More than 3000 people were killed in South Sudan in brutal massacres last week in bloody ethnic violence that forced thousands to flee, the top local official in the affected area said. “There have been mass killings, a massacre,” said Joshua Konyi, 
South Sudan threatens to “sue” Khartoum over unilateral oil charges
Sudan Tribune
January 5, 2012 (JUBA) – The government of South Sudan (GoSS) on Thursday threatened to sue Khartoum over its decision announced this week to unilaterally impose monthly charges on its crude oil transported through its pipelines. 
Sudan claims SPLM-N recruited 900 children in South Kordofan, calls for UNICEF 
Sudan Tribune
Habani said that some of the kids were transferred to South Sudan describing this as a breach of their rights and a violation of international conventions in this regard. During her meeting with UNICEF representative in Sudan Nils Kastberg she called 

Nuer White Army, Akobo, South Sudan

January, 5, 2012

The leadership of the White Army has met today in Lilkuangole to determine the situation in Jonglei state after successfully launching Operation Ending Murle’s Abductions on December 22nd, 2011. After reviewing the operation, the leader of the White Army, Bor Doang informed the Executive Council of the White Army that the operation has been successful. The leader reported that twenty five Nuer and Dinka kids who were abducted by the Murle in the past have been recovered and will be returned to their parents by their chiefs. Over 80,000 stolen Nuer and Dinka cattle have been returned.

The casualties of the White Army are less than expected in that large operation. The leader of the army confirmed that 95 fighters have been wounded and 15 killed in the entire operation. The Murle ran to Pochalla and Boma near the Ethiopian border. The Executive Council congratulated Bor Doang for successful and capable leadership that disarmed Murle in a very short period of time. Although majority of Murle tribe escaped to Ethiopian mountains, the Executive Council has no intention to pursue them in a foreign country. The sovereignty of Ethiopia has to be respected and the White Army has no intention to create conflict with Ethiopia which was an ally that supported the people of South Sudan against successive Khartoum regimes before independence.

The White Army congratulated Twic-Dinka for joining the operation to disarm Murle. We thank 900 Dinka who joined us on December 22nd, 2011. We are very happy that no member of Dinka White Army was wounded or killed in operation. They played a very pivotal role in the capture of Lilkuangole. Most of military intelligence which located the whereabouts of Murle fighters was supplied by Twic-Dinka who joined their Nuer brothers to end the problem of Murle. The unity between the Nuer and Dinka youth will be consolidated for peace to reign supreme in Jonglei State. Nuer and Dinka share the same great grandmother during creation. Although Murle are also related to Nuer and Dinka as part of greater Nilotic tribe, their persistent determination to abduct Nuer and Dinka kids since 17th C is a big menace to all their neighbors.

The Nuer and Dinka youth will meet in the near future to discuss forming a coalition between the Nuer and Dinka white armies as the only solution to maintain security in Jonglei and Upper Nile States. Our Dinka brothers have proven to be very good fighters against Murle when we launched the operation. The Executive Council will also send a delegation to Anuak Youth for talks to form a unified army to fend off Murle threat in the region.

We would like to inform the world that three Nuer clans of Lou, Jikany and Gawaar have agreed to unite their white armies under the name Nuer White Army. From January, 5, 2012 onwards, the name that applies to Lou, Jikany and Gawaar fighters is the Nuer White Army. Bor Doang thanked 1,500 Jikany and 500 Gawaar Nuer who participated in the operation. It is the first time since Dr. Riek Machar formed the White Army in 1992 that all Nuer clans could unite their fighters under one command. The leadership has decided that all the Nuer clans, from east to west, will form a unified leadership under one leader. A delegation will be sent to Nuer Youth in Unity State to join the Nuer White Army to defend Nuerland from external enemies.

We want to state, in no uncertain terms, that the Nuer White Army has no political objective. The primary objective of the White Army is to defend the Nuer livelihood from Murle who carried out attacks against the Nuer civilians. We advise President Salva Kiir to find a solution to Murle problem which will push the South to first tribal world war. The problem of Jonglei state is a persistent attack of Murle against Nuer, Anuak and Dinka civilians. The Murle are the ones who do not want to live in peace. Murle cannot increase their population by abducting Nuer, Anuak and Dinka’s children. If Murle’s women have fertility problem, the Nuer and Dinka are willing to accept intermarriage with Murle. The Dinka, Nuer and Murle’s chiefs can sit down and talk about intermarriage to assist our Murle brothers to increase their population if their women are not procreating. The chiefs can decide the number of cattle a Murle man should pay as dowries to marry a Dinka or Nuer girl.

We want to inform UNMISS that we have no intention to fight the UN forces in South Sudan if they stay neutral. Since we launched operations against Murle, we never targeted UN forces. When our fighters entered to Pibor town, they didn’t shoot at UN and SPLA because we have no quarrel with them. The problem could arise if UN forces shoot at us because we could exercise the right of self-defense recognized internationally. Since the UN has no intention to fight us, we also have no intention to fight the UN and the SPLA. Our problem is Murle, not the UN.

The leadership of the White Army would like to thank the UNMISS for airlifting 84 members of our fighters wounded in the operation to Juba for treatment. We are very happy for what the UN forces did and it proved that they don’t have any intention to confront us as we mistakenly thought earlier. We want the UN forces to maintain neutrality they demonstrated when we entered Pibor town. The Commander of UN forces in Pibor is a professional soldier who talked to our leadership in a very polite way and made it clear that the UN would not support any side in the conflict. The White Army does acknowledge the difficult situation the UN forces are operating in given the fact that they are inexperienced when it comes to the issues of cattle rustling. However, the UN forces have shown professionalism in handling themselves in this operation. Our advice to them is to maintain being independent from South Sudan government which is led by confused people.

We would advise the UNMISS that the White Army is open to dialogue with international community. The White Army is represented in North America by Nuer Youth under the leadership of Gai Bol Thong in United States. We mandated the Nuer Youth in America to represent the Nuer White Army in any negotiation with the UN in New York. We the Nuer Youth in South Sudan do not recognize Riek Machar as a Nuer leader. He is responsible for all the killings we experience today because it was him who armed Murle tribe in 1997 when he signed Khartoum Peace Agreement with Omer Bashir. He cannot talk to us because we know that he is responsible for all the deaths in Jonglei for arming Murle in 1990s to fight John Garang. Now Murle are killing the Nuer and Dinka with weapons Riek Machar supplied to them in 1997.

The leadership of the Nuer White Army will talk only to Murle Youth through UN mediation outside South Sudan. Mediation between Murle, Dinka and Nuer chiefs is not in the interest of the youth of any side. We advise the international community to know that the chiefs of Nuer, Dinka and Murle will not solve the ongoing conflict. Therefore, there has to be a direct peace talk between Murle Youth on one side and Dinka and Nuer Youth on the other side. The chiefs and politicians in Jonglei and Juba are complicating the matter and the youth do not recognize their authority.

For peace to reign supreme, Murle Youth must talk face to face with Nuer and Dinka Youth outside South Sudan. If the Nuer, Dinka and Murle youth talk in New York, they will have a different experience. Their contact with outside world and the youth in America will be enlightening experience and it would assist in attitude change among the youth.

The entire youth in South Sudan have a problem with politicians in Juba. We advise the UN that the government in Juba is not in good terms with the Nuer and Dinka youth. Therefore, the UN must have an independent contact with the youth via Nuer youth in America who will assist to bring Murle and others together.

We want to advise the UNMISS that the war is not over and the international community should work hard to avoid more wars. We anticipate that the Murle will attack the Nuer and Dinka as a revenge for the operation we launched on December, 22nd, 2011. If they did that, we will launch surprise attacks which will lead to more bloodshed and displacements. Therefore, the UN and the US government must deal with the Murle and Nuer-Dinka white army independent from chiefs, churches and Juba’s government. The UN must talk to Nuer Youth in North America to facilitate direct Youth-to-Youth Dialogue. The people who die in numbers are youth and the majority of the populations are youth. There is no need for UN to waste time talking to tiny minority like chiefs, elders, pastors and politicians.

We would like to warn President Salva Kiir that any attempt to disarm the Nuer White Army will lead to catastrophe and bloodbath. The president must avoid sliding the South to a failed state and should rationally study the situation on the ground without emotion. The Nuer and Dinka youth are very angry and have acquired military arsenal which can bring down the government in Juba if provoked. The White Army has no intention to fight the government. But if President of the South will launch another forced disarmament similar to 2006, there will be a military uprising similar to what happened in Libya last year. If Salva Kiir wants to avoid what happened to Muamar Gaddafi, he should not mess up with Nuer White Army. Our intention is to defend our cattle and kids from Murle because the government failed to provide security after disarming us in 2006. But if Salva Kiir lost touch with reality and insists on disarmament, we will fight him. This time the war will be different because youth in the entire South are not happy with politicians in Juba. If Salva Kiir starts war against Nuer White Army, he will regret it for the rest of his life if he will survive.

For contact:

Bor Doang
Thuraya Phone: +882166997450
Jonglei, South Sudan

Gai Bol Thong
Leader of Nuer Youth in North America
Tel. (206)307-7357
Seattle, Washington