News / Africa

Peace Eludes South Sudan's Jonglei State

A mother waits with her son, both victims of ethnic violence in Jonglei state, South Sudan, for emergency food rations in the town of Gumuruk, Jan.12, 2012.
A mother waits with her son, both victims of ethnic violence in Jonglei state, South Sudan, for emergency food rations in the town of Gumuruk, Jan.12, 2012.

Inter-tribal fighting in South Sudan's Jonglei state is testing the government's ability to maintain security, while church-led peace efforts have stalled, raising the possibility of more violence.

Long before the birth of South Sudan, the tribes of Jonglei state have waged battles. For hundreds of years, the men of the Lou Nuer and Murle tribes have launched raids to steal each other's cattle, perpetuating a battle of retaliation and revenge.

But in recent times, the pitch of the fighting has grown more extreme.

Amanda Hsiao, field researcher for the Enough Project, based in South Sudan, said the violence has taken on a new dimension.

“The latest attacks in December saw 6,000 to numbers as high as 12,000 youth organized, highly sophisticated, well-armed, moving down to the Murle areas," Hsiao said. "This is something new and this is a very serious threat to the government's authority.”

The introduction of heavy weapons, which made their way into the hands of Jonglei militias during Sudan's civil war, has raised the casualty and death toll from recent cattle raids into the thousands.

Past efforts at disarmament have only complicated matters, said Hsiao.

“These communities are holding on to their guns because that is their means of defense. So in order for them to be convinced of letting go of their only form of defense and in order for them not to be vulnerable after a disarmament campaign the government has to be able to provide security afterward.”

The other crucial element to securing the peace in Jonglei is bringing the warring factions together for negotiations.

That job has fallen on the Sudan Council of Churches (SCC) which, with the government's support, began mediation efforts following an attack by the Murle against the Lou Nuer in August of last year.  The SCC had been training members of each tribe in the art of negotiation so that they would be prepared for a join conference.  However, the two sides could not agree on a venue.  The talks finally fell apart with the Lou Nuer attack in December.

Bu the council is working on a new plan, said Reverend Mark Akec, the acting general secretary of the SCC.

“We will continue to carry out reconciliation among the communities because that is the role of the church," said Akec. "Although they fight themselves, we are still telling them please live as brothers, be peacemakers.”

Akec added the new strategy involves short and long-term solutions, including establishing pastors and other watchmen in Jonglei to gather information and to serve as an early warning system for future attacks.  And he said there are plans to provide more work opportunities for the youth, to incorporate women in the community in the peace process and to empower local church leaders.

But asked when the council expects the actual peace talks between the different tribes to resume, Akec said they are waiting for the funding.

“Now we are still working on our plans, to raise funding and all those things to enable us to do the work. Because if we are not getting any funding from the international community and our partners, NGO's, we can not do anything. So we are working now on a plan then we will send it out to the partners, so we are waiting for their response and as soon as we get their response we will start the work," said Akec.

While the council is optimistic that peace talks will work, renewed violence may be on its way.

Last week, the Lou Nuer militia, which calls itself the White Army, announced plans to surround Murle communities, ostensibly to prevent them from launching any attacks of their own.

Humanitarian agencies have been rushing food and aid to Jonglei in the past few weeks to assist some 120,000 people affected by the violence.

You May Like

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: US Army Turns Its Best Minds Toward Ebola

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey More

Dissident Venezuelan General Resurfaces in New York

Antonio Rivero has resurfaced after nearly a year in hiding, appearing at United Nations in New York More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid