A temporary United Nations peacekeeping base has been set up in Tonj and regular patrols are underway to deter a fresh outbreak of violence following a series of clashes that resulted in the death and displacement of many civilians at the weekend.
Fighting erupted between members of the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces and armed youth last weekend, with much of the violence centered around the village of Romich, about 100 kilometers east of Tonj town in Warrap state. The conflict came amidst a disarmament exercise being carried out across the region.
The peacekeeping team, led by Bangladeshi military personnel, civil affairs and human rights workers serving with the UN Mission in South Sudan, travelled 11 hours from Kuajok through heavily flooded territory to get to Tonj.
They quickly established a temporary base, began patrolling, and have held numerous meetings with local authorities, high-ranking military officers, community leaders and youth in Tonj town, Ameth and Mabior-Yar to support reconciliation efforts.
The team is also working to verify the number of casualties resulting from the clashes with local authorities now estimating the death toll may be as high as 150 with 5000 people reportedly displaced.
The South Sudan People’s Defense Forces Commander responsible for disarmament in the area, General Bol Akot, has described the security situation in the area as “calm”. However, it has also been reported by local officials that the situation in Romich remains tense and volatile.
Peacekeepers have been unable to travel from Tonj to Romich because heavy flooding has made roads impassable. However, an air patrol is planned for tomorrow that will include UNMISS civilian and military staff as well as Warrap State officials.