News / Africa

Tribal Violence Leaves More Devastation in South Sudan

Displaced people who fled the attackers gather in Pibor County,  January 17, 2012.
Displaced people who fled the attackers gather in Pibor County, January 17, 2012.
Hannah McNeish

Tribal violence in South Sudan’s Jonglei state recently reached alarming levels with thousands of armed young men involved in attacks on villages. The death toll has yet to be determined, but the United Nations says tens of thousands of people in Pibor County were forced to flee attackers.

In Pibor town, hundreds of displaced people gather in the midday sun, waiting for U.N. aid workers to distribute grain and cooking oil brought in by helicopter.

For many like Labakal Kalahin, whose daughter was killed by attackers firing on the family as they fled into the bush, this will be her first meal in seven days.

Kalahin says other family members have headed home to assess the damage, but she is staying with her children.

“We are staying here for security, to be safe," she explains. "I need food. I need bed sheets for covering. I need furniture, because everything has been thrown away by running away from the enemy."

New enemy

Before South Sudan gained independence in July, the enemy was Sudan, which the south fought for decades. Now, two South Sudanese communities - the Lou Nuer and Murle tribes - are pitted against each other in a series of brutal attacks on each other's villages.

The two tribes have fought for decades, mainly over cattle, but the fighting reached a new intensity earlier this month, when thousands of youths from the Lou Nuer marched on Pibor town, burning Murle homes and forcing an estimated 60,000 people to flee. Several smaller revenge attacks last week left about 100 people dead.

A clinic owned by one of the few aid agencies working in Pibor, Doctors Without Borders, was looted in the attacks and about 80 local staff members are unaccounted for.

World Food Program South Sudan Country Director Chris Nikoi says the usual infrastructure challenges are hampering efforts to help tens of thousands of people thought to be scattered in the bush.

“There is a dearth of roads in South Sudan," said Nikoi. "It is almost impossible to move large quantities of food by road. So we are having to respond quickly by air. So the critical challenge is having appropriate helicopters, airplanes that can help us meet this need very quickly. Of course, that goes with the fact that we would also need some money.”

People wait at the food distribution center set up by the World Food Program in Gumuruk, 40 kilometers from Pibor, South Sudan, January 17, 2012.
People wait at the food distribution center set up by the World Food Program in Gumuruk, 40 kilometers from Pibor, South Sudan, January 17, 2012.

Food distribution

In Gumuruk, 40 kilometers from Pibor, the World Food Program has set up food distribution for 4,500 people.

Leaning against a stick and carrying a round stool to sit on, Koko Nareh Alan says he is here for food after losing 500 head of cattle in a deadly raid on his village nearby.

“They have taken cows, and abducted some women and children. They killed many people," said Alan. "They were shooting people, and if they get old men like me they were slaughtering.”

The elderly Alan says he does not know what to do after losing his fortune in a country where cattle are highly prized and represent a pension, dowry and insurance rolled into one.

In South Sudan, about 80 percent of the population relies on raising cattle and subsistence farming for a living. With whole villages burned to the ground and the fear of more attacks, people face a tough task trying to recover their livelihoods and loved ones.

The army hopes to create a buffer zone between the two tribes and carry out statewide disarmament in a bid to contain the violence. But church-led peace talks to end tribal disputes collapsed in December.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid