News / Africa

South Sudan's Jonglei State Teeters On Edge

An MSF doctor examines a baby in Pibor, in Jonglei State in South Sudan. People who went into hiding following recent attacks continue to come in for urgently needed medical care at MSF's re-opened facilities.
An MSF doctor examines a baby in Pibor, in Jonglei State in South Sudan. People who went into hiding following recent attacks continue to come in for urgently needed medical care at MSF's re-opened facilities.
Nico Colombant

United Nations peacekeepers, community leaders and the world's newest government in South Sudan are trying to quell ethnic violence in the country's biggest state, Jonglei. But new warnings and a lack of resources have analysts fearing violence will continue.

Aid workers say more than 140,000 people have been displaced by the ethnic violence in eastern Jonglei state, which has caused an unknown number of deaths in recent months, estimated at the several thousand.

The most recent attack, in which two herders were killed by an alleged cattle raider, was reported Sunday in the state's Bor county.

An armed Nuer and Dinka youth militia group calling itself the White Army has issued an ominous warning saying that next month it will start new operations to contain rival Murle youth.

Militias from both ethnic groups have attacked and counter-attacked each other since South Sudan broke away from Sudan and became independent last year.

J. Peter Pham, the Africa director at the Washington-based Atlantic Council, says historical rivalries between the cattle herding communities, which had been dormant for a while, suddenly exploded. "The thought of independence, the dream of having their own country kept the various disparate factions together long enough to achieve it and they achieved it relatively smoothly but now comes the hard part which is building a state where there has not been one before," he said.

Ethnic militias were often used and paid by rival sides in Sudan's long civil war.  Without that revenue and with the realization their new country would not be providing them new opportunities, some of the militia groups have conducted cattle raids as a substitute.

Jonathan Temin from the United States Institute of Peace says there seems to be a multitude of factors behind the violence. "The availability of small arms and light weapons certainly makes these kinds of raids more deadly. Another factor here that does not get discussed too often is dowry.  There has been a significant inflation in dowry prices, the prices that a man has to pay in order to get married and because of that inflation men need more cattle in order to get married and that can drive some of the cattle raiding that were are seeing. Then there is also politics which pervades everything in South Sudan," he said.

Temin says politicians trying to gain standing in the new South Sudan have also caused the situation to deteriorate, by using divisive ethnic arguments to drum up their own support.

United Nations peacekeepers and South Sudan's security forces have been criticized for not doing enough to stop the ongoing confrontations. Officials from U.N. agencies, the government in Juba and local Jonglei communities all say they are working hard to help victims of the recent violence, as well as prevent new major outbreaks.

Amir Idris, a Sudan expert at Fordham University in the state of New York, says it is important to put the focus on local power-sharing and development, rather than blaming the rival communities.

"If we do so, we begin to demonize these two communities, the Nuer communities and the Murle communities.  And there is nothing wrong with their culture and traditions, but certainly there are some political and economic issues that need to be addressed by the government of South Sudan and the international community to stop these kind of military confrontations, otherwise this cycle of violence will continue," he said.

South Sudanese immigrant leaders living in Canada and the United States have started a cross-ethnic organization called the Jonglei Peace Initiative to try to help end the violence as well.

In a statement, they also said development projects for all Jonglei communities were urgently needed.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid