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US pledges help to end South Sudan cattle raids

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BENTIU, SOUTH SUDAN — The US Ambassador to South Sudan has pledged to help stop increasingly violent cattle raids, which have claimed more than 100 lives in the country since the start of the year.

"I’m here to help mitigate conflicts, especially with migration and over cattle rustling and other issues," Ambassador Susan Page said during a trip to Bentiu, the capital of Unity state, where she met with local officials.

She urged the Unity state government to work with local communities to try to end deadly inter-communal clashes, and called for migrant cattle herders to be allowed to freely and safely move across South Sudan.

“It is very important, I think... that people are working together to make sure migrations are peaceful, but also so that people can live together in peace and harmony," Page said.

"Whether they are from the same ethnic group, sharing water points, or sub-clans that are different, it should not matter. People should be able to live together peacefully,” she said.

Reacting to reports of bombing raids carried out by the Sudan Armed Forces on South Sudanese territory, Page urged Khartoum and Juba to settle their differences peacefully.

“As you know, the US government has been very active on this matter... We released another statement just try to get the parties back together, back to implementing the agreement they already signed.”

Unity State Deputy Governor, Michael Chieng Jiek Geay, called on Washington to put more pressure on Khartoum and Juba to implement cooperation agreements both countries signed in September last year on issues including oil, the border, citizenship, and asset- and debt-sharing.

Sudan and South Sudan signed nine cooperation agreements in September, all aimed at settling unresolved issues that date from the secession of South Sudan in July 2011.

Geay also welcomed US help in resolving the cattle rustling problem and called for more US funding for development projects in Unity state.