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SSudan MP Urges Intervention in Jonglei, Pibor Violence

FILE - A woman from the Murle tribe and her children stand outside their tent in Pibor town in Jonglei State, South Sudan, July 18, 2013.
FILE - A woman from the Murle tribe and her children stand outside their tent in Pibor town in Jonglei State, South Sudan, July 18, 2013.

A South Sudan lawmaker who represents Jonglei State in the Transitional National Legislative Assembly is urging the government of South Sudan to intervene in weeks-long intercommunal fighting in the Greater Pibor Administrative Area and Jonglei State between armed youth in the two areas.

Local authorities from the area says perpetrators killed dozens of people, burned homes, stole livestock and caused tens of thousands of families to be displaced from their homes.

Member of parliament Mayen Deng Alier told South Sudan in Focus the number of lives lost in Pibor and Jonglei is shocking.

"Other than it being tribal issue between the Murle community and the people of Jonglei State, we should see the other motives of revenge attacks. It is an issue the leaders from the Greater Pibor Administrative Area and Jonglei State should sit down and look into. Also, national leaders who are concerned with the security sector and political issues should look into this so that the situation can be arrested," Alier said.

The latest wave of violence began two weeks ago when a group of armed militia men from neighboring Jonglei, known as the White Army, attacked parts of Greater the Pibor Administrative Area.

"The major aspect now is the issue of cattle rustling—it needs policies to be introduced to avoid the occurrence of some people going and taking property that belong to the people and in the process damaging both lives and property. It is an issue that is threatening the national security in the country," Alier told VOA, adding if parliament were not in recess, cattle raids in Greater Pibor would be a top agenda item.

Hellen Ngaidok, a national member of parliament representing Gumuruk County in the Greater Pibor Administrative Area, says the violence has lasting effects in her area.

"I have family there and relatives and my people are the ones suffering the most in this conflict. If it continues, the consequences will be both short and long term. The short one will be destruction and loss of lives like it is already happening. And the long term one there will be trauma for those affected and also there will be poverty," Ngaidok told South Sudan in Focus.

She said parties to the country’s 2018 peace deal are in the final phase of implementing the agreement, but fighting in Pibor could derail security arrangements and cause further displacement.

The South Sudan People’s Defense Force said attacks and counter attacks by armed groups in Greater Pibor and Jonglei have overwhelmed the army. Military spokesperson Major General Lul Ruai Koang told South Sudan in Focus that four soldiers were killed in Jonglei State in recent weeks.

"The White Army from Jonglei invaded Greater Pibor in the thousands. We could not intervene in every payam; we only fought back in self-defense," said Koang, adding that that the military does "not have presence in some of the villages that are being attacked."

Koang said the army was only able to intervene when cattle raiders left stolen livestock near their military barracks.

In a joint statement released two weeks ago, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), African Union, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the Troika, the European Union and and South Sudan's Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (RJMEC) called on South Sudanese leaders to urgently intervene to stop the fighting in Pibor ensure the safety of civilians as well as unimpeded humanitarian access.