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

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' 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.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs