(Juba, 30 December 2011): The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan, Ms. Lise Grande, has expressed serious concern about the impact on civilians of continued inter-communal violence in Jonglei State in South Sudan. Fresh fighting over the last week in Pibor County has left villages burnt to the ground and caused thousands of people to flee their homes. “Many people have fled with little or no supplies. They are hungry, without access to clean water and on the move,” said Ms. Grande.
Today, critical humanitarian relief was set to be flown into the area by humanitarian actors. Most of the affected areas are inaccessible by road. However, plans had to be temporarily suspended this morning upon reports of a deteriorating security situation in the area.
Humanitarian actors estimate that tens of thousands of people have been uprooted from Likuangole and Pibor and are congregating south of Pibor town, scattered in the bush or concentrated in areas where river water and trees for shelter are available. Some people are also reported to be continuing further south.
Humanitarian partners are working to verify population movements and are taking urgent steps to respond to immediate needs including emergency health, food, safe water and shelter. “We fear that the number of displaced could increase based on how many people are living in this area. Our priority is to ensure we find these people and provide emergency assistance, but the logistical constraints are enormous and we don’t have enough air assets,” said Ms. Grande.
Safety and security of the civilian population remains a key concern. Jonglei State has seen some of the deadliest inter-communal violence this year with seasonal and large-scale retributive attacks in several locations. Fighting between the Lou Nuer and Murle communities in Jonglei State spiked in April, June and August and most recently in the last week. “I am deeply troubled by this trend and the impact of violence on civilians has been significant. What is most worrying is that one attack leads to another, resulting in a spiral of attack and counter-attack,” said Ms. Grande.
Prior to the clashes over the last week, this year, more than 1,100 people have lost their lives and some 63,000 people have been displaced by inter-communal violence in Jonglei according to reports by local authorities and assessment teams.