Pibor clashes leave 30K persons homeless, says OCHA

By William Madouk Garang

About 30,000 people have been forced out of their homes due to renewed violence triggered by armed youth in Greater Pibor, the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs said yesterday.

OCHA said some 5,000 internally displaced people, including women and children, have arrived in Pibor town after fleeing the conflict areas of Gumuruk and Lokuangole.

“An estimated 30,000 people have been reportedly displaced following recent violent clashes by armed elements in the Greater Pibor Administrative Area,” OCHA said in a statement extended to No.1 Citizen Newspaper on Thursday.

Sara Beysolow Nyanti, United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan said: “People have suffered enough. Civilians – especially those most vulnerable – women, children, the elderly and the disabled – bear the brunt of this prolonged crisis.”

She added “The violence must stop. The whole humanitarian community calls upon all armed elements to immediately cease hostilities, respect international humanitarian law and protect civilians and humanitarian workers.”

For her part, the UNICEF Representative in South Sudan, Ms. Hamida R. Lasseko expressed her grave concern, noting that “the escalation of violence in areas across the country has left some vulnerable people fleeing for safety in various directions in desperate need of support.”

She stressed that the ongoing fighting has had an adverse impact on the overstretched humanitarian operations in South Sudan opening new gaps.

“This puts additional strain on the humanitarian response and resources. We are forced to prioritize immediate lifesaving needs of the newly displaced population”, Ms. Lasseko continued.

On December 24, armed youth from Jonglei attacked communities in parts of the Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA). The GPAA authority reported over 50 people had been killed and several others injured as the result of the violent conflict.

The escalating violence started on Christmas Eve following an attack by armed youth on the Bich-Bich area in the greater Pibor.

The fighting erupted a few days after the UN mission in South Sudan warned that armed youth in Jonglei State were being mobilized to attack Pibor.

OCHA stated that vulnerable people in South Sudan continue to suffer the cumulative and compounding effects of years of social and political instability, food insecurity, and climate-related stocks such as flooding.

The ongoing conflict, including violence at the sub-national level, has impacted thousands of people in 2022, leading to multiple displacements, and loss of lives and livelihoods.

This has also exacerbated people’s chronic vulnerabilities and mounting need for life-saving humanitarian assistance and protection.

An estimated 9.4 million of the most vulnerable people in South Sudan will need urgent life-saving assistance and protection in 2023, compared to 8.9 million in 2022 according to OCHA.

In 2023, humanitarian partners target 6.8 million people with urgent life-saving support and protection services.

As of 28 December, the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan was funded at 67.4 per cent. South Sudan continues to be the most violent context for aid workers, followed by Afghanistan and Syria.

Since the beginning of 2022, nine humanitarian workers were killed in the line of duty in South Sudan.

Across the country, aid workers – mostly national humanitarian workers – are affected by the impact of armed violence, bureaucratic impediments, and targeted violence. 

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