March 18, 2013 (JUBA/BOR) – Dozens of people were wounded in fresh clashes between South Sudan’s army (SPLA) and an armed group in Jonglei state over the weekend, eye witnesses told Sudan Tribune.
Phillip Aguer, the spokesperson of the army confirmed the incident, but did not unveil further details on casualties involved.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Monday that its surgical team performed emergency surgery to 30 wounded people in Jonglei’s Pibor town.
“With the onset of the rainy season, reaching the wounded will become increasingly difficult. The ICRC stands ready to provide medical care for wounded of all backgrounds”, said Melker Mabeck, ICRC’s head of delegation.
Over the last two weeks, however, ICRC says over 62 wounded people have been referred to their surgical team in Pibor, including the 30 who required emergency surgery.
“Health-care personnel work neutrally and impartially – they prioritize those most in need of care, without discrimination, and they do not take sides in fighting. They must be left to do their jobs in safety”, Mabeck said the statement issued Monday.
In recent years, however, several agencies, including the ICRC have often complained of attacks on their health-care facilities, denying thousands of the population the much-need services provided by the few available units.
It’s not clear whether the incident is directly linked to the army’s recent move to crack down on David Yauyau rebels operating in Pibor, whom they accuse of re-arming with supplies allegedly from Khartoum, to distabilise the population in the coming raining seasons.
Yauyau, a Murle by tribe, took arms against South Sudan government in 2010 after losing in a parliamentary election to represent Gumuruk constituency. In 2011, he accepted amnesty calls from South Sudan president, returned to Juba, only to resume his rebellion months later when he fled to Khartoum from Juba.
The rebel leader recently said he supports a peaceful resolution to the fighting, but urged the United Nations involvement in the proposed peace initiative. (ST).