Intellectual warns of looming humanitarian crisis amid cattle influx

By Taban Tom Henry

An intellectual from the Acholi community of Agoro Boma in Magwi County of Eastern Equatoria State on Tuesday warned of a looming humanitarian crisis as cattle herders return to the area. 

Otim David Okot, Secretary for Information and Publicity for the Agoro Council of Elders and an opinion leader in the Acholi Community said the existence of the cattle herders from Jonglei around Aru Junction has caused panic and fear among members of his community. 

He was speaking during a joint press conference concerning the armed herders’ atrocities held in Juba on Tuesday.

“If the situation is not averted immediately, because as I am talking to you right now, several people are being displaced as a result of anxiety, and fear, they are already running away,” he said. “Some of them are going to Magwi county headquarters, some of them are running away going to Uganda,” David said. 

Last week, Central Equatoria State Governor Emmanuel Adil Anthony gave a 72 hours ultimatum to the Jonglei cattle herders to leave the state after they were accused of killing five people in Ngerjebe Boma, Lokiliri Payam. 

The Agoro community elder condemned the killings saying they stand in solidarity with the people of Lokiliri Payam of Juba County. 

In his no-holds-barred speech, David accused powerful national government officials of supporting the pastoralists to occupy lands in Magwi. 

“Night meetings in Sherikat areas even in Juba here are being facilitated by key leaders in government who tell their people that they have bought land here and they tell them to go and occupy this land,” he claimed.

He alleged that the leaders hailing form the marauding cattle community support the cattle keepers morally, giving them resources, mobilizing funds.

“These people have mobilized, they have demobilized their tribesmen who are in the army, they are mobilizing the national army who are the SSPDF in the regular police, in the wildlife to come and protect the wealth of these people most of this wealth are for these government leaders,” he added.

David noted that the people of Magwi are on high alert as they monitor the new influx of cattle into the area. 

In March, conflict erupted in the areas of Magwi County after cattle rustlers attacked Kraals belonging to herders from Jonglei State killing about 20 people including women and children.

The armed herders retaliated by burning villages and killing seven people.

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