By Emelda Siama John Lopula
Inter-communal violence that erupted yesterday at the UN Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in Malakal, Upper Nile State, has reportedly left three people dead.
United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), in a statement seen by this outlet, expressed grave concern over the violence.
“UNMISS is gravely concerned about the eruption in tensions and deadly inter-communal fighting this (Thursday) morning at the UN Protection of Civilians (PoC) Site in Malakal,” its statement partly read.
“Initial reports indicate that at least 3 persons have been killed (as of Thursday early afternoon) and more than 20 injured, with some of them receiving treatment at the mission’s hospital,” it added.
According to the UN mission in the country that manages the IDP camp, violence flared up in the early hours of Thursday morning following a stabbing incident.
UNMISS regretted the loss of lives and injuries to civilians and called for an immediate halt to the fighting so that the United Nations can continue to protect vulnerable families and de-escalate tensions.
The Mission said it has deployed reinforced military and police personnel in the area, in close collaboration with state authorities and the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF), to conduct confidence-building patrols within the Malakal PoC site and along the perimeter.
“UNMISS is also engaging with leaders of the various communities in the PoC site, as well as the state government, to restore calm and order,” the statement further noted.
The mission urgently calls on the fighting communities to immediately cease any violence and use dialogue to address any grievances.
For his part, the Upper Nile State governor, James Odhok Oyay, has called on citizens to embrace peaceful co-existence and unity among the communities living in Upper Nile State in order to advance development in the state.
He made this call during the inauguration event of Twic East Community Leadership in Malakal.
James Odhok reiterated his administration’s commitment to achieving the goal of making Upper Nile a more stable and peaceful state in order to create a viable environment for the rehabilitation of educational institutions that had been destroyed by the war.
“I warned against those who like to set the people of Upper Nile State against themselves, assuring that the unity of the people of Upper Nile State is capable of defeating this evil,” Odhok said.
Meanwhile, the Community Empowerment of Process Organisation (CEPO) condemned the violence at the Malakal PoC site and called on the conflicting communities to cease violence and hostility, adding that the act may amount to a crime against humanity.
“I would like to call upon our communities in Malakal PoC or IDPs camps to resolve their differences in a non-violent way; you resolved them through dialogues; violence never gained; violence contributed to the commitment of automatists claiming the lives of our own sons and daughters in Malakal PoC and IDPs camps,” Edmund appealed.
He further called on the Upper Nile State leadership, particularly from the community who are conflicting, to urgently intervene through holding a meeting so that they could find a way to help the conflicting members of the communities in the Malakal PoC site.
“We are tired of ongoing violence in IDP camps that always claims innocent civilians and always results in human rights violations,” Mr. Odhok echoed.
More so, the embassies of Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States, which made up the Troika, expressed in a statement their deep concern over reports of fighting at the Malakal PoC site.
“We are saddened by the reports of casualties, including both deaths and injuries. We call for calm and restraint and urge all those in a position to influence the communities involved to take all appropriate steps to end the violence,” they cited.