January 6, 2012 (JUBA) - The United Nations Secretary General’s Special Representative to South Sudan, Hilde Johnson, has appreciated the active role played by the government of South Sudan to stop the fighting between the Lou-Nuer and Murle communities in the troubled Jonglei state.
About six thousand armed youth from Lou-Nuer community, one of the ten major sections of the greater Nuer tribe located in Jonglei state, carried out what they said was a retaliatory attack against the Murle community. The Lou-Nuer were attacked in August by the Murle, killing over 700 of their members, abducting some 180 children and raiding over 38,000 heads of cattle.
The Lou-Nuer youth, in the recent revenge attack, threatened to capture all the towns and villages belonging to the Murle community, disarm the population by force and recover the 180 children abducted. The large scale attack affected “most of the Murle land” including the county’s capital, Pibor town, according to officials.
The number of the dead could not be confirmed, while over 50,000 people were displaced into the bushes and they were being hunted by the attackers, according to the United Nations (UN) report.
The government dispatched the Vice President, Riek Machar Teny, on 28th December 2011, to Pibor County where he told the Lou-Nuer youth to stop the fighting and return to their territories. Though the appeal was resisted for sometimes, the Lou-Nuer youth have now returned to their territories.
Hilde Johnson announced her appreciation on Thursday during her meeting with the Machar. The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon also commended the efforts exerted by the government to stop the fighting, in a phone conversation with President Salve Kiir Mayardit, but said there was further need to address the root causes of the conflict.
The top UN diplomat in South Sudan, Johnson, said her organisation hailed the personal intervention by the Vice President on the ground in Pibor County, during which he visited the affected areas and talked to both the Lou-Nuer youth and Murle leaders to stop the fighting.
Machar also briefed the UN Special Representative on the decisions taken by the Council of Ministers on Wednesday, declaring Jonglei state a disaster area and to appeal for humanitarian assistance for the affected populations. He said the government will also carry out disarmament throughout the state and initiate a campaign for peace among the rival communities.
Johnson informed Machar of her organization’s plan to deploy more forces of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in areas of Lou-Nuer in addition to the forces deployed in Pibor county.
The government has officially confirmed that the Lou-Nuer youth have already withdrawn from the Murle areas and were moving back to their territories.
Machar said the huge number of armed Lou-Nuer youth should be talked to on how to conduct themselves while at home as the government is concerned of the coming dry season which may prompt their movements into other areas in search of water and pasture for their tens of thousands of looted heads of cattle from the Murle community.