Jonglei, Greater Pibor bleeds as other States celebrate Christmas

By Mary Poni

As citizens across South Sudan joined the rest of the world to celebrate this Christmas feast, greater Jonglei and most particularly Pibor Administrative Area is bleeding as armed youth from Jonglei State reportedly mobilized themselves and attacked youth from Pibor area.

Edmund Yakani, the Executive Director of the Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) in a statement extended to No.1 Citizen Daily Newspaper, yesterday said it’s unfortunate for the Dinka and Nuer youth of Jonglei and the Murle youth of greater Pibor attacking themselves during Christmas Eve.

On 21st December the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) expressed deep concerns over reported mobilization of armed Nuer youth in the Greater Jonglei area. UNMISS said such mobilizations have the potential to trigger violent attacks that can gravely impact the civilian population.

The Mission said it will appreciate proactive engagements by the Government of the Republic of South Sudan with involved youth leaders to de-escalate hostilities and restore calm. 

UNMISS called on leaders of the Lou Nuer and Murle communities to exert positive and constructive influences on their youth groups, encouraging them to embrace dialogue and refrain from using violence as a means of resolving grievances. 

However, all those calls from UNMISS and activist fell on deaf ears as violent attack was reported in Pibor barely three days following the alert raised.

“Violence broke out on Christmas in Pibor Administrative Area on the 24th Dec. 2022 and the clashes are reportedly still ongoing in Bich-Bich Boma, Kelero (Manyabol) Payam of Gumuruk County in Greater Nanaam carried out by heavily armed youth from Nuer and Duk youths” Activist Yakani said.

“The political elites who are behind these armed deadly and inhuman violence among our communities should know that they are being tracked and documented for demand of accountability and justice in the future” Yakani warned the violence instigators.

CEPO’s Executive Director stressed that majority of these violence are politically motivated by political elites in the state capital, Juba and diaspora.

Yakani urged the political leadership of the country to take serious measures on prevention of deadly and inhuman armed violence among the communities in the country.

He urged the Nuer-Duk youth to stop waging violence against the communities of Greater Pibor Administrative Area, Murle in particular while also appealing to Murle community to abolish the harmful practice of abducting children and women including cattle raiding regularly, saying their act may constitute a crime against humanity.

“We will be taking part for immediate mitigation of the ongoing violence in the same manner we did for de-escalating Twic Mayardit-Ngok-Dinka violence” said Mr. Yakani.

He stated that the national government should not be selective in responding to deadly and inhuman violence, citing that the situation of Pibor, likely facing an attack from its neighbouring communities, was raised several times by various actors but the national government was slow in acting.

Meanwhile the information minister in the Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA), Abraham Kelang, urged the CEPO to strongly condemn the violence and called on the youth from both sides to immediately stop the hostilities.

CEPO’s early warning records, indicated that deadly and inhuman violence among the communities across the country with late and less government intervention was recorded with registered deaths for the last five months of 2022 higher than in 2021.

“The last five months of 2021, CEPO’s early warning system registered a death rate of 106 individuals from politically motivated deadly and inhuman communal violence less than in the last five months of 2022” it stated.

Meanwhile CEPO further revealed that they registered death rate of 306 individuals mainly from the violence of Twic-Mayardit-Ngok Dinka violence, Upper Nile Nuer-Shilluk (Collo) violence in the last five months of 2022 including violence of Bor pastoralists and farmers at the borders of Eastern Equatoria and Central Equatoria.

Edmund Yakani described period spanning for the last five months of 2022 dark months.

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