October 27, 2014 (NAIROBI) – At least one person was reportedly killed and more than eight other seriously injured when South Sudanese rival communities clashed on Sunday at Kakuma refugee in western Kenya.
Sources said the clashes between Nuer and Dinka communities, the largest and belligerent ethnic groups in South Sudan, occurred when a 9-year old Nuer girl-child was allegedly raped by a Dinka man, leaving her in critical condition.
“The clashes happened on Sunday evening when a Dinka adult raped a 9-year old girl-child, ripping her genitals and leaving her in coma,” Gai Dup Wur, one of the Nuer community leaders told Sudan Tribune.
He said the child was rushed to the medical center in critical condition while her father initially calmed down the situation, asking the Nuer youth not to take the law into their own hands as the police arrested the criminal.
Wur, however, said the community was surprised when Kenyan police authorities set free the accused on Sunday evening.
A complaint, he said, was then launched to the Kenyan police by the community leaders to re-arrest the criminal, but the police officer on duty tore the complaint paper, stirring anger among the Nuer youth who went to forcefully capture the freed Dinka man.
“The Dinka community in a section of the camp named Hong Kong resisted the attempt to capture the criminal and this led to the clashes between the two communities,” he said.
A spokesperson for the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) in Kenya confirmed the clashes, saying it was mainly in retaliation to the camp incident in which a nine year-old girl was alleged raped.
"One person was killed [but] we are still trying to find out from the community," said Emmanuel Nyabera, adding that “eight others were injured”.
Wur, however said, that eight members from the Dinka community were beaten to death by angry youth and 11 others were injured.
Among those killed was a member of the Didinga community, reportedly beaten to death by mistake, sources told Sudan Tribune.
Reports from health workers attending to the wounded at the medical centres confirmed that nine people died from the violence.
The Nuer community leader explained that until the occurrence of the rape case, the two communities had been living peacefully side by side in the camp, stressing that the situation would have been treated as an individual criminal case had the offender been arrested and brought to book.
So far members of the Dinka community have fled from various sections of the camp and sought refuge in schools run by the UN.
Wur said the situation had however remained calm on Monday as Kenyan police have been patrolling the camp, which is the largest in Kenya with the population of refugees nearing 150,000 people.
According to UNHCR, over 80,000 South Sudanese refugees currently live in Kakuma, with at least half of them said to have fled the country’s ongoing conflict.