Posts Tagged ‘world food program’

Sudarsan Raghavan/WASHINGTON POST – Kayoi Maze, 42, was separated from her two daughters, ages 18 and 16. Her neighbors later informed her that the fighters had abducted them. “I don’t expect to ever see them again,” said Maze, who like hundreds of villagers returned to the city Likuangole over the weekend to receive food aid from the UN’s World Food Program. ”At least I have two daughters left.”

By , Published: January 30

LIKUANGOLE, South Sudan— Nothing is intact in this town, save the memories. Every hut was burned to the ground. The only health clinic and the only school were torched. Hundreds were killed or injured. Thousands more fled.The United Nations and South Sudan’s government had combat forces in this town at the time of the assault late last year. But witnesses say they did nothing to stop the killings.

South Sudan map: Likuangole; Jonglei state; Pibor; Duk Padiet; Likuangole; Nuer tribe; Murle tribe

When the attackers reached a village nearby, they shot Nyandit Allan, 28, twice in her left leg and again in the face, then slit the throats of her two stepsons. “They were singing as they left,” said Allan, who is now recuperating in a clinic.Six months after celebrating independence,the world’s newest nation is grappling with a virus of tribal violence. In many ways, the inevitable has happened, as ethnic and political tensions exploded after being suppressed by the promise of separation from the north, after a decades-long war against rulers in Khartoum.

The United States and its allies have spent billions to help South Sudan become a stable, pro-Western pillar in a region plagued by terrorism and militant Islam. But now the intensifying attacks have ignited tribal violence and threaten to undermine a government already facing a long list of daunting challenges.

Stopping the violence “would demand a very, very significant military operation, and the government also would have to move significant forces to make that happen,” said Hilde Johnson, the head of the U.N. mission in South Sudan.

The state of Jonglei has long been gripped by poverty, ethnic and political tensions, a massive influx of weapons and a history of cattle raiding between the Nuer and Murle tribes. Last year, the United Nations documented 208 attacks that displaced more than 90,000 people.

But the current bloodletting appears far more vicious and widespread. Once, only cattle camps were raided. Now, entire villages and towns are being razed, infrastructure destroyed.

“Our clinic is full of women and children,” said Karel Janssens, field coordinator for theaid agency Doctors Without Borders in the town of Pibor, where many of the wounded have sought refuge.

Torn apart by revenge

Since the attacks by the Lou Nuer, a subgroup, on this area in late December and early January, the Murle have risen up. They have marauded Nuer areas across Jonglei. Two weeks ago, 47 people were killed in the village of Duk Padiet. Aid agencies have launched a massive humanitarian effort to help those harmed by the raids, which the United Nations now numbers 120,000 people.

On Dec. 17, a Nuer militia known as the White Army announced that it would protect the Nuer population and their cattle from the Murle because the government was not doing enough.

The militia, which has a fundraising and media arm in the United States, said it was also seeking revenge for the massacre of 700 Nuer by Murle warriors in August, a month after South Sudan declared independence.

In a telephone interview, Gai Bol Thong, a Nuer spokesman who lives in Seattle, said his group had raised $45,000 from supporters in the United States and Canada for food and other “humanitarian” needs of the fighters.

Sudarsan Raghavan/WASHINGTON POST – Kayoi Maze, 42, was separated from her two daughters, ages 18 and 16. Her neighbors later informed her that the fighters had abducted them. “I don’t expect to ever see them again,” said Maze, who like hundreds of villagers returned to the city Likuangole over the weekend to receive food aid from the UN’s World Food Program. ”At least I have two daughters left.”

On Dec. 25, the White Army e-mailed a statement vowing to “wipe out the entire Murle tribe on the face of the earth.”The next day, 6,000 Lou Nuer fighters attacked Likuangole.

They stole thousands of heads of cattle. They destroyed all the boreholes, eliminating the main source of water here. Groups of warriors targeted Murle men, while others tracked down women and children who had fled into the thick bush.Kayoi Maze, 42, was separated from her two daughters, ages 18 and 16. Her neighbors later told her that the fighters had abducted them.

“I don’t expect to ever see them again,” said Maze, who like hundreds of villagers returned to Likuangole to receive aid from the U.N. World Food Program. “At least I have two daughters left.”

Local officials estimate that 850 people were killed in Likuangole and nearby villages, including 660 women and children. An estimated 150 women and children were abducted. An additional 2,250 people were killed in surrounding areas. But neither the United Nations nor the government have confirmed those figures.

In Likuangole, two human skulls lie on a patch of charred ground near the U.N. base. The smell of rotting flesh still wafts through the air. In graffiti covering the walls of the school, the Lou Nuer fighters have declared the town part of their territory.

“We have done this to you,” reads one message, “because you have done it to us.”

‘The U.N. failed us’

When the gunmen attacked, Achiro Manibon remembered running in one direction as his three wives and four children ran the other way. They were all shot dead.

Manibon, 35, had expected the United Nations combat force and South Sudanese troops stationed in the town to fend off the attackers. But they didn’t fire a weapon, he said. Across this area, people feel betrayed by their military and the U.N. peacekeepers, which has a mandate to use force, if needed, to protect civilians.

For weeks, the peacekeepers had tracked columns of Lou Nuer fighters making their way toward Likuangole and Pibor. Yet they dispatched only 400 of their 3,000-member force.

Simon Ali, a local administrator, said he brought five disabled people to the U.N. base for protection. The peacekeepers told him to put them in a hut about five yards from the base, he said. When the Lou Nuer arrived, they fired into the hut. Then, they torched it with the people inside, Ali said.

“The U.N. failed us,” he said. “We asked for their help and they did nothing.”

Johnson, the head of the U.N. mission in South Sudan, said U.N. forces in Likuangole had evacuated 41 people, mostly disabled and elderly, before the attack, “but we cannot rule out there might have been some civilians left.” She added that she was not aware of any incidents in which U.N. forces did not provide assistance to civilians seeking refuge.

In Likuangole, there’s also deep mistrust of the government. Many senior officials, including Vice President Reik Machar, are Nuer, and Lou Nuer soldiers number in the thousands in the military and are unlikely to intervene, residents said.

Col. Philip Aguer, a South Sudanese military spokesman, said that only 500 soldiers were in Likuangole at the time of the attack, and that it would have been like “sentencing your soldiers to death” if they had tried to fight the 6,000 Lou Nuer warriors.

“The real reason why they did nothing is because the force was not capable of confronting the attackers,” Aguer said. “Not because many are Nuer.”

Today, roughly 1,500 U.N. peacekeepers — half the force — are patrolling Jonglei state. But it has become even more difficult to stop attacks. The Murle fighters are moving in small groups, staging swift stealth attacks, making the violence harder to monitor and predict. “You could see a pattern of where they are moving, but we, with all our helicopters, are not able to detect that they are going to that village or not that,” Johnson said.

Back in the United States, Gai Bol Thong is continuing to raise funds for the White Army. If the government cannot protect the Nuer community, “we will do some revenge against the Murle,” he warned.

South Sudan official: Cattle raid kills 70; nation struggles to contain internal violence

By Associated Press, Published: January 30

JUBA, South Sudan — An official in South Sudan says more than 70 people were killed in a recent cattle raid.Interior Minister Alison Manani Magaya said Monday that a Nuer tribe from Unity state attacked a Dinka community in neighboring Warrap state Saturday. He says 70 people were wounded and attackers took more than 4,000 cattle.

The Warrap attack is the latest in a series of cattle raids since December. Ongoing raids between Nuer, Murle and Dinka communities have killed hundreds. The United Nations estimates over 120,000 people have been affected in Jonglei state alone.Magaya said authorities had not found any links connecting the attacks in Warrap to violence in Jonglei.

South Sudan broke away from Sudan in July and is struggling to contain internal violence that has plagued the region for years.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Special Briefing

Ambassador Princeton Lyman
Special Envoy for Sudan
Via Teleconference
January 25, 2012

AMBASSADOR LYMAN: Thank you very much. Thank you all for coming and being on the line. I wanted to just bring everybody up to date on a number of issues that we’re following very closely related to Sudan and South Sudan. So let me discuss them briefly and then happy to take your questions about them.

One of the issues that we are extremely concerned about is the situation in the states of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. These are states in the Republic of Sudan; that is, the North. But a conflict has been raging there since last May, arising from issues never fully resolved in the civil war because people in those states, particularly in the Nuba Mountains, fought with the South. And though they remained in the North, their issues were to be resolved in a process called popular consultations. Those did not get finished and a conflict broke out. A very serious armed conflict broke out last year.

Now, what we are very concerned about right now is that there are predictions of a major humanitarian crisis in those areas, particularly Southern Kordofan. You know there’s this predictive mechanism called FEWS NET, the Famine Early Warning System Network. They – if you go on their website, you’ll see they have produced two maps, one the situation now – excuse me – and one predicting for March. By March, they feel that a large number of people, a quarter of a million or more, will be – will reach what they call emergency status, which is one short of famine. And this is very alarming to us.
We have strongly urged the Government of Sudan to allow international humanitarian aid – that is, World Food Program, UNICEF, et cetera – to come in, in all parts, across lines of whoever’s holding territory. They have refused to do so. They don’t want international involvement in this area, which they think is an internal matter and a conflict area. But we have been saying and saying to our African partners that we just can’t – the world can’t stand by and watch famine take place in an area, and know nothings being done.

So we’ve been working very hard, leading up the Africa Union meeting at the end of this month, to urge the Government of Sudan to open up international access and to do so soon. We’re under a lot of pressure if that doesn’t happen to look at other alternatives, but they all contain serious risks in doing so. So our preferred alternative – very far first alternative – is for the Government of Sudan to do this. The UN has made proposals to the government, but they haven’t been accepted yet.

The second issue that I would like to touch on is a – ongoing negotiation and dispute between Sudan and South Sudan over the distribution of oil revenues and financing. You’ll recall that after the secession of the South, 70 percent of the oil was in the South but all the infrastructure for exporting it – pipelines, et cetera – are in the North. So the two countries really are dependent on each other in the oil sector. It was also understood that when the North, now the Republic of Sudan, lost that much revenue there would be a transitional financial arrangement in which the South would ease that transition.

They’ve been negotiating and arguing over this for some time. The negotiations reached a very serious point in the last few weeks when the Republic of Sudan, in the North, began to divert Southern oil from the pipeline and to block ships with Southern oil from leaving the port, claiming this is a way to collect transit fees that they claim the South wasn’t paying. And they imposed a fee of $32 a barrel, which is quite high, for that.

After negotiations, which are still going underway, failed to reach an agreement, South Sudan said, okay, we’re going to shut off the oil, we’re going to start closing the wells, and we’ll suffer until we build a new pipeline through Kenya but we just can’t take this anymore; they’re stealing our oil.

It is a very bad situation, and both sides could get hurt very, very badly. The African Union High-Level Implementation Panel – this is the panel headed by Thabo Mbeki and former president of Burundi Pierre Buyoya and Nigerian former head of state General Abubakar – has been running negotiations on this in Addis. They’re working very hard. They’re very close to a proposal which should be able to reconcile the different interests and come up with a solution.

We’re very concerned that this negotiation succeed and before too much damage is done to the oil sector and the infrastructure, that the South feels that they can stop shutting off the production and go back to full production. So this is a quite urgent matter on which we are working very hard.

The third area I want to touch on is the situation in Jonglei. That’s a state in South Sudan. You’ll recall about two weeks ago there was a major conflict between two ethnic groups, the Lou Nuer and the Murle. There have been attacks back and forth between these groups over cattle, kidnapping of women and children, et cetera. And in this latest incident, 6,000 or so young Nuer marched on the Murle to regain the cattle, to regain the people who were kidnapped, and we feared a major massacre.

Fortunately, with the help of UNMIS, et cetera, the Murle were warned in the town of Pibor. Most of them left, and after some skirmishing and some people getting killed, perhaps several hundred, the young Nuer have started to go back. But now the Murle are undertaking revenge attacks.

In the meanwhile, the people who fled Pibor are displaced people in various towns, and we think more are in the bush. So the UN, USAID, humanitarian NGOs are all working to try and reach these people and get them humanitarian assistance.

This is a situation that demonstrates the tensions and traditional and otherwise that exist in South Sudan that have sort of – were set aside in the campaign for independence and the successful independence July 9th but now, coming to the surface, demonstrate how much the Government of South Sudan must do to improve both its security sector capabilities, but also its outreach to these communities and conflict resolution and development programs here and elsewhere in South Sudan.

So I wanted to touch on all three of those, because they are all very serious situations on which we have been working very heavily here and in the field and in our diplomacy, both in Europe, the Arab world, Africa, et cetera. So let me stop there and open it up. Happy to take your questions.

MODERATOR: We’ll go ahead and take a few questions from here in the room and then we’ll turn it over to the callers. Does anyone here in the room first have a question? Andy, go ahead.

QUESTION: Yeah. On the issue of Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan and the potential famine or food emergency, I’m wondering what you can tell us about the contingency planning, should Sudan continue to refuse access to aid groups. I understand that there has been some discussion of unilateral aid operations. Is that true? How is that possible without Sudanese Government approval? And how advanced are those – is that planning?

AMBASSADOR LYMAN: Well, we – right. We have said to the government in Khartoum for some time that we are feeling a lot of pressure if there’s no international access to look at ways in which assistance would be carried across the border without their approval. But we know there are a lot of risks to that. We know the government would be opposed to it. We have to look at the possibility of it, but we’ve made no decision to do that because it has a lot of complications.

But at the same time, we’re very worried about what happens if they don’t allow international assistance, so we continue to press heavily for international accepted assistance by the government even as we look with a good deal of apprehension at what alternatives might be possible.

QUESTION: And under that alternative plan, would that be something the U.S. is considering doing on its own, or is it something that the U.S. and neighbors are talking about?

AMBASSADOR LYMAN: We haven’t reached that point yet, and so we’re not at a point where we could get into any details as to what is possible or not. But we do know that other countries are concerned, not necessarily engaged in the same kind of planning but very concerned about this humanitarian situation.

QUESTION: And just a final one on this, on this line. Is the AU meeting and whether or not the AU takes it up as a formal subject – is that a sort of a hard or soft deadline here, because you have only until March?

AMBASSADOR LYMAN: It’s a very important date because if you want to do something by March, considering positioning of food, et cetera, it takes quite a while, several weeks, the humanitarian agencies say. So if the meeting doesn’t resolve this by the end of January, we’re going to be in a serious situation.

QUESTION: Ambassador Lyman, Rosalind Jordan of Al Jazeera English. Talk a little more about the political considerations around Khartoum’s refusal so far to allow outside interference. Why would it be to Khartoum’s benefit to not have outsiders intervening in this near-famine situation?

AMBASSADOR LYMAN: Well, of course, I can’t speak for the government, but the arguments that they have advanced to us on this are several. First of all, they say they’ve learned the lessons of Darfur; you let the international community in and the next thing you know, you’ve got a UN peacekeeping operation, you’re charged with human rights violations, there’s a peace process, and then, like Naivasha and the CPA, you lose part of your territory. So they say we’ve learned that lesson, we’re not going to do it again. That’s one line of argument.

The second is that they think the food will go to supporters of the SPLM and their North – the people they’re fighting, and therefore will prolong the conflict. So those two are the main reasons that they advance. They also deny that the situation is that serious, but we just have these predictions that are based on a lot of data.

QUESTION: And what are some of the environmental factors that may have led to this near-famine situation?

AMBASSADOR LYMAN: Two things in particular. The nature of the conflict – the Sudanese armed forces has done a great deal of bombing, and the bombing has hit the civilian population and has prevented them from planting this last year. It also forced many of them to live in caves rather than be able to tend their farms, et cetera. So they lost the planting season.

And second, because international access hasn’t been allowed, all the stocks that were there from the World Food Program, UNICEF, et cetera, are exhausted. So those two factors are the main ones.

There’s about 50,000 refugees in South Sudan and Ethiopia already from these two areas, but we see in these predictions a quarter of a million people or more who might be affected. This could be a major, major calamity. And for Africa, it seems to me this is something that shouldn’t be tolerated.

QUESTION: And does the U.S. have an assessment of whether this potential plan from the AU, from the Mbeki group, let’s call it, could actually work if some sort of resolution is reached between now and next Tuesday?

AMBASSADOR LYMAN: I only have the general outlines of the proposal. They’re being presented today to the parties. But my information is that this proposal will address the basic concerns of the North and South; that is, how to assure that there’s enough oil for the refinery in the North, which is a major concern of theirs, and a prospect of this transitional assistance while recognizing that the South has a legitimate claim about all this diverted oil and that has to be costed, and that the fees for transit are – that there’s a mutual basis for determining those.

I haven’t seen the details of the proposal. We think it’s going to address all these things, and we hope once it’s on the table that both sides will refrain from these kind of unilateral steps.

Let me just say one more thing on the humanitarian issue, because I’ve told you what I think are the arguments from Sudan, but let me tell you the arguments we have advanced on the other side. We think it would look very bad for the Government of Sudan to deny international assistance when the world is watching and a major famine could take place. We don’t think this is in the interest of the Government of Sudan, it’s not in their interest in world opinion, it’s not in the interest of them as a protector of their own citizens. These are all their own citizens.

Second, we think that – and this goes beyond the immediate humanitarian situation – ultimately there has to be a political solution here. They have fought in the Nuba Mountains before during the civil war. It never ended. So it – there has to be eventually a political solution. Making the humanitarian gesture now may create an atmosphere for that, but the most important is for the government to recognize they have this responsibility and the world will respond positively if they say yes, we have this responsibility, we’ll bring in agencies that we can trust – World Food Program and UNICEF, and monitor – and have it monitored and do the right thing.

MODERATOR: Operator, do we have any reporters on the line who would like to ask a question?

OPERATOR: To ask a question at this time, please press *1, un-mute your phone, and record your name when prompted. To withdraw your request, you may press *2. Once again, to ask a question, please press *1. I currently show no questions at this time.

MODERATOR: Andy, go ahead.

QUESTION: I’ve got another one. On the oil, on South Sudan’s decision to stop the oil production, in your view, how long can this go on? Number one, do you have any position on whether or not this was a wise bargaining move? Was this the right thing for them to do? Did they have any other option? And number two, how long can this go on before you start having very serious issues with the infrastructure and that it sort of really affects the viability of their finances?

AMBASSADOR LYMAN: I’ve heard mixed reaction – responses to that question. There is some feeling that in just three and a half days after they shut down the wells, you will get into a situation which will be very costly and time-consuming to restore production. I’ve heard different assessments of the impact on the pipeline and the environmental damage, some predicting very serious damage and costs. Others are saying less so. I don’t have a firm feeling, but there is a general feeling that it’s going to be very costly.

Is it a good tactic? I was just in South Africa, as you know, Andy, and I was reminded that Nelson Mandela also often had to take the country to the brink but never crossed it, even in the most tense times. I think the Government of South Sudan was outraged and angry and took the situation to the brink, but I’m afraid in this they may be crossing over and costing themselves in the long run when they have so many development needs.

So I think I can understand the anger, I can understand the response, but I’m very worried that they go over the brink here and then have to pay a price that will hurt the people of South Sudan for a long period of time.

QUESTION: Well, both in this case with the oil fees and with the fighting between traditional groups, does this suggest that perhaps the new government isn’t quite capable of dealing with these very serious fundamental issues? And if it’s not fully capable, what can the U.S. do to support them to prevent things from going over the edge?

AMBASSADOR LYMAN: I think the Government of South Sudan is faced with a number of challenges and still has a relatively thin layer of trained civil servants, professionalized military command and control systems, et cetera. And the country was so devastated by the civil war that there is just basic, basic development needs all throughout the country.

So I think the challenges are very great, and they must be able to dedicate their efforts, time, and resources to those demands. And that’s why getting a resolution of this issue and not losing their main source of revenue for the next couple years is vital if they’re going to be able to tackle this. And they’re going to need a lot of help. They’re going to need a lot of help to do this.

QUESTION: How is the U.S. prepared particularly to help them develop a revenue stream, since I would imagine that things such as property taxes that we have here in the U.S. aren’t as readily accessible for government operations?

AMBASSADOR LYMAN: Right now, oil provides 98 percent of the budget of South Sudan. And the other alternatives are still very, very underdeveloped. Most of the people live in the rural area. They’re poor. It’s not a commercialized agricultural sector. Even though there’s potential there, they import most of their food. So there isn’t really a solid tax base that can even begin at this point to compensate for the loss of oil revenue.

Now, we are helping, along with others, to develop agriculture. We had a big conference here called the South Sudan Engagement Conference, where we encouraged private sector investment. There was a lot of interest in it. I think over the longer term, they must diversify away from oil, but that’s going to take several years at best.

QUESTION: I’m just wondering if you could tell us a little bit about your – the tenor of your conversation with Khartoum these days. I mean, we have another report this morning that aircraft, presumably Sudanese aircraft, have bombed a refugee camp in South Sudan. This seems to be recurring practice. How are you reacting to that, and what’s your message to them? And are they – what are they telling you?

AMBASSADOR LYMAN: Well, we are concerned about this. This is the second bombing of a refugee camp in South Sudan. It violates all the rules regarding refugees. And we have raised that, raised that in the UN Security Council as well as with the government in Khartoum. Their reaction has been mixed on the first incident. I haven’t seen their reaction to this incident yesterday. But they went through a number of explanations on the last one, which – some of which were not credible, et cetera.

This is, again, as we’ve said to the government in Khartoum, an example of why this war is bad for everybody. And bombing South Sudan is only going to aggravate the situation. The Republic of Sudan claims that South Sudan is feeding this rebellion, and if that were stopped, the rebellion would end. That’s just not accurate. Even if there were assistance from the South, that isn’t what’s at the heart of this conflict.

So we’ve raised this very much with Khartoum. They haven’t appreciated our doing so, but we have. And we have continued to discuss with the Government of Sudan the importance of resolving the issues in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, that that these are getting in the way of our normalization process, and we’ll continue to have that dialogue.

QUESTION: You mentioned that you raised it at the Security Council. Do you think that this is something that – what would you want the Security Council to do, should these attacks continue? And does that risk complicating the bilateral issues? I mean, if you bring it into the Security Council, won’t that complicate the Sudan-South Sudan track?

AMBASSADOR LYMAN: Well, it can if the Government of Sudan sees it that way. One of the points that we have tried to convey is that we’re not doing these things just to be antagonistic to the Republic of Sudan. These are ways in which the two countries can be at peace, and that includes the Republic of Sudan. Having a war in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, still conflict in Darfur, trouble in the east – this isn’t providing a future for the people of the Republic of Sudan.

So when we raise these issues, et cetera, they see it often as antagonistic. We see it as, look, this is the pathway to the future of a peaceful Republic of Sudan. And sometimes we’re like ships crossing in the night, but that’s really the tenor of what we’re trying to say.

QUESTION: Given all of these problems that you’ve just discussed, are you concerned that the – sort of the victory that was the July independence declaration and all of the work that went into that is in danger of being unraveled, that the Sudan project is, in both cases, South and North, is really at risk of going right back off the rails now?

AMBASSADOR LYMAN: I don’t think either Sudan or South Sudan wants or intends to go back to full-scale war. I really – I’m almost totally convinced of that. That doesn’t mean that they have a good relationship at all and that there aren’t a lot of friction points on the border, over Abyei, over oil. And the relationship is bad. So there is a danger that things could get out of control, that incidents could lead to greater conflict. That’s why these issues are so terribly important, not only in and of themselves but to prevent exactly what you’re talking about. But I think both sides recognize that going back to full-scale war would be disastrous. So I think we still have to look upon that successful independence of the South as a great achievement and be thankful for it.

MODERATOR: Operator, we’ll go for one last chance and see if there are any calls in queue. Are there any calls in the queue right now?

OPERATOR: I show no questions.

MODERATOR: Okay. Thank you, Operator. With that, I think we end our session. Thank you, Ambassador Lyman.

AMBASSADOR LYMAN: Well, I want to thank you all. These are issues that we think are of great importance for this – the Administration is heavily focused on these issues, and we hope that we can do everything we can to help resolve them. So thank you very much.

MODERATOR: Thank you.

# # #

South Sudan: 47 killed in revenge attack as tribal conflicts escalate

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 Photo/Michael Onyiego
Members of a South Sudan tribe that was previously targeted in a massive ethnic assault killed 47 people in another revenge attack, escalating the tribal conflict in the world’s newest nation, an official said.

Members of the Murle community attacked a community called Duk Padiet in Jonglei state Monday evening, said Philip Thon Leek Deng, a member of parliament who spoke from South Sudan‘s capital of Juba.

Some of the residents of Duk Padiet – who are from the Lou Nuer tribe – fought back, killing an unspecified number of attackers, “but the majority of the 47 killed are young children who could not run, old women, old men, disabled people,” said Deng, who is a Lou Nuer. There was no immediate confirmation of his casualty tolls.

In a statement, US National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor acknowledged the escalation in violence in recent weeks and urged all sides to refrain from further attacks.

“We welcome the South Sudanese government’s launch of an investigation into these attacks and its deployment of additional military and police forces to the region, and we support efforts by the UN and non-governmental organisations to provide urgently-needed humanitarian assistance to those who fled the fighting,” the statement said.

The Monday attack is the latest in a series of raids carried out by the Murle against the neighbouring Lou Nuer community in Jonglei. Similar attacks took place over the past week in neighbouring Uror and Akobo counties. With the attacks in Duk County, the death toll since the revenge attacks began Jan 8 has risen to more than 120.

The revenge attacks are the latest in a long-running cycle of violence between the two communities. Officials say the attacks are being carried out in retaliation for raids by the Lou Nuer tribe on Murle communities in Pibor county in late December and early January.

No reliable death toll has yet been released from those attacks, but the United Nations estimates that as many as 60,000 people were affected by the violence and are in need of assistance. One Murle official said more than 3,000 Murle died in the December-January attacks. That toll has not been corroborated by the UN or central government.

Deng said the residents of Duk County are fleeing the county in anticipation of an impending second attack.

“What happened in Duk Padyiet is not the end,” he said. “We are expecting another attack this evening from similar forces because they did not take cattle. They attacked the town. There were no cattle in the town.”

The United Nations has recently launched operations in Jonglei to reach the tens of thousands affected by the violence. South Sudan has deployed 3,000 soldiers to the area in an attempt to quell the ethnic clashes.

Cattle raids between the Lou Nuer and Murle have gone on for decades. The 23-year civil war between the newly independent South Sudan and its northern neighbour, Sudan, flooded this region with weapons.

The crisis in Jonglei is just one of a host of problems in one of the world’s most underdeveloped nations, which gained independence last July. Besides the 60,000 displaced in Jonglei, the country is also hosting more than 80,000 refugees who have fled rebellions in neighbouring Sudan. Thousands of South Sudanese have returned from Sudan since independence and thousands more have been displaced by the brutal Lord’s Resistance Army, a rebel group plaguing Central Africa.

South Sudan attackers kill 51 in clashes: governor

By Hannah McNeish (AFP) –

JUBA — Gunmen killed at least 51 people in the latest ethnic clashes in South Sudan’s troubled Jonglei state, the region’s governor said Tuesday.

“The whole night (Monday) they burned the town… 51 are confirmed dead and now we have 22 (injured) evacuated to Juba,” said Jonglei governor Kuol Manyang.

Armed men stormed the village of Duk Padiet in northern Jonglei late Monday, with most of those killed “women, children and the elderly,” Manyang told AFP.

“We are expecting more to be injured because they ran to the villages last night,” he said, blaming gunmen from the Murle ethnic group for the attack.

Remote and impoverished Jonglei has seen a dramatic escalation of bloody tit-for-tat attacks between rival ethnic groups over cattle raids and abduction of people.

Newly-independent South Sudan has declared Jonglei a national “disaster area” while the United Nations has launched a “massive emergency” operation to help over 60,000 people affected by the violence.

Last month an 8,000-strong tribal militia of Lou Nuer youths marched on Pibor, to exact revenge on the Murle people there for alleged attacks, abductions and cattle raiding.

Now officials claim the latest violence is the Murle’s response.

One attacker was killed, a suspected Murle man wearing military fatigues, Manyang said.

The village “was attacked by people positively identified as the Murle armed youth,” said Philip Thon Leek Deng, the local MP.

Deng said that large herds of cattle had been stolen in a series of raids in the area last week, but the attack Monday targeted people.

“They did not take cattle… they are only coming for annihilation,” he said.

The people of Duk Padiet are from the Dinka ethnic group, who are also traditional rivals of the Murle.

Minister of Information Barnaba Marial Benjamin said around 3,000 extra security forces had been deployed in Jonglei, mostly to Murle areas, but now attacks were happening in Nuer and Dinka areas.

“The forces we have taken in cannot cover every area,” he said.

Jonglei, an isolated and swampy state about the size of Austria and Switzerland combined has limited mud roads often impassable for months during heavy rains.

Guns are common in the region devastated by two decades of war with northern Sudanese forces, a conflict that paved the way for the South’s independence last July.

The UN says that last year, violence between the two tribes left around 1,100 people dead and tens of thousands displaced in a series of cattle raids involving abductions of women and children.

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South Sudan

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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.

    By MICHAEL ASTOR Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS January 6, 2012 (AP)

The United Nations launched a humanitarian emergency effort Friday following last month’s intertribal clashes in South Sudan, responding to a wave of violence that might have left thousands dead and some 50,000 people in urgent need of aid.

South Sudan became independent last July following a 2005 peace deal with now-northern neighbor Sudan, and there have been sporadic cross-border attacks since. But internal violence between the Lou Nuer and the Murle tribes is a reminder of the challenges the world’s newest country faces inside its own borders.

Last month’s clashes took place in and around the town of Pibor, sending tens of thousands of residents into the countryside.

Media reports have put the death toll in the clashes as high as 3,000, but Martin Nesirky, spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, said the U.N. could not confirm that number. On Tuesday, Lise Grande, the top U.N. official in the region, said the death toll could be anywhere from dozens to hundreds.

Nesirky said a rapid response plan is now being finalized.

“The requirements already reported are already significant and around 50,000 people are estimated to be in need,” Nesirky said. The U.N.’s High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, will traveling to South Sudan this weekend to assess the situation, he added.

Officials said the World Food Program has delivered emergency rations to feed 1,000 people in Pibor for two weeks, and expects to reach 7,000 more people in the coming days. It has also distributed food packages for 2,000 internally displaced people at Boma.

On Friday the White House declared the government of South Sudan eligible to receive weapons and defense assistance. A White House official said the decision could potentially promote peace and regional stability in East Africa.

Nesirky said the U.N. mission has reinforced peacekeepers’ presence in key areas and is conducting daily land and air patrols to deter potential violence. He said they were also working with the government of South Sudan to protect civilians.

On Thursday, Herve Ladsous, the undersecretary-general for peacekeeping operations, called the situation “a very serious crisis.”

“I think the problem we face in this particular region of Jonglei state is one of access, because there are no roads and we have insufficient helicopters,” he told reporters following his address to the Security Council. He said the U.N. reinforced its staff in the area and that the South Sudanese government is trying to do the same.

Columns of fighters from the Lou Nuer ethnic group marched into Pibor to target the Murle community. The tribes have traded violent attacks over the last several years that have killed thousands. Much of the communities’ animosity stems from cattle raiding.

South Sudan appeals for humanitarian aid amid fighting

By the CNN Wire Staff
January 6, 2012 — Updated 1632 GMT (0032 HKT)

Click to play
Roots of Sudanese violence
  • NEW: The United Nations says it is providing emergency help to those most in need
  • At least 50,000 people have fled violence in Jonglei state
  • The government declares the state a “humanitarian disaster area”
  • Ethnic tension flares as tribes fight over grazing lands and water rights

(CNN) — South Sudan appealed for international aid for a remote region that has been under attack by roaming fighters, as thousands of residents fled into the bush to avoid the violence.

The government declared Jonglei state a “humanitarian disaster area” and called on international aid agencies to help provide urgently needed assistance.

It is not yet clear how many people have been killed or injured in the violence.

The United Nations said Thursday it was mounting a “massive emergency support programme” to help those displaced by fighting.

South Sudan’s struggle with violence

The organization sent a battalion of peacekeepers to the area last week amid reports that members of the Lou Nuer tribe were marching toward two towns which are home to the rival Murle tribe.

The Lou Nuer fighters, who numbered 6,000 to 8,000, have now agreed to leave the area following “intensive negotiations,” a United Nations statement released Thursday said.

But as many as 50,000 people who fled their advance on the towns of Likuangole and Pibor now need food, water and shelter.

“The situation in humanitarian terms is grim,” U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator Lise Grande is quoted as saying.

“They haven’t had food; they haven’t had access to clean water. In a number of cases, some of the people are wounded. They haven’t had shelter. As the day progresses, you can see hundreds of people coming back into town and there is no question they are in trouble.”

The U.N. World Food Programme has already delivered food supplies for some of the most vulnerable, including children, the statement said.

Grande said the United Nations had helped evacuate citizens from the area and avert a greater crisis.

Ethnic tensions in Jonglei state have flared as tribes fight over grazing lands and water rights, leading to cattle raids and abduction of women and children.

Government officials have urged the two ethnic groups to return women and children abducted in the spate of violence.

More forces will be deployed and a committee established to push for reconciliation between the two groups, according to government spokesman Barnaba Marial Benjamin.

Kouider Zerrouk, a spokesman for the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), said Thursday that the United Nations was “beefing up” its presence across Jonglei state in support of government efforts.

Zerrouk said the situation was now calm but UNMISS was operating daily land and air patrols to deter further violence and ensure the Lou Nuer fighters did leave the area.

The mission would also help the South Sudan authorities transport about 800 additional police to the area, he said in a statement.

Jennifer Christian, Sudan policy analyst with the Enough Project, said that while it’s important to get emergency food and medical aid to those affected, a longer-term strategy is needed to avoid future violence.

“The underlying, largely economic, causes of this cycle of inter-communal violence must be addressed to ensure permanent peace and stability in Jonglei state,” Christian said.

“In Jonglei, cattle is currency. For instance, young men need cattle to pay dowry prices and marry. A lack of access to basic services and economic opportunities compounds the reliance of Jonglei’s communities on this cattle economy, which, in turn, fuels conflict associated with cattle raiding,” she said.

The international community should work to support the South Sudan government in developing its security forces and judicial system, she added.

As residents fled the fighting last weekend, the United Nations said peacekeepers were having trouble accessing the rugged and isolated region, which is surrounded by thick forests.

“The problem we faced in this particular region of Jonglei state was one of access, because there are no roads, because of insufficient helicopters,” said Herve Ladsous, the U.N. peacekeeping chief. “So we did reinforce our available staff there. The government of South Sudan itself is trying to do the same, but facing the same constraints.”

The violence in Jonglei state is the latest to rock South Sudan, which officially gained its statehood in July after separating from neighboring Sudan to the north.

Decades of civil war between the north and south, costing as many as 2 million lives, ended with a U.S.-brokered peace treaty in 2005.

But before South Sudan gained independence in July, human rights monitors expressed concerns that long-standing grievances could end in violence consuming the region again.

The United Nations estimates that more than 1,100 people died and 63,000 were displaced last year by inter-communal violence in Jonglei state, not taking into account the latest clashes.

CNN’s Moni Basu, Nima Elbagir and Laura Smith-Spark contributed to this report.