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.
TEXT SIZE - +

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 Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid