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

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.