27 killed, 3,000 families displaced in Jonglei cattle rustling - governor

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By John Actually

May, 2011 (BOR) - At least 27 people were killed and 14,000 cattle raided in Pibor county, Jonglei state, allegedly by members of the Nuer Lou ethnic group, in a fight that broke out between 19-24 April, displacing over 3,000 families, says the state governor, Kuol Manyang.

Manyang said on 2 May that the conflict was retaliation for an attack by Nuer Lou who were raided by Murle earlier this year. In this attack a Nuer Luo chief and his deputy were killed and over 800 cattle were stolen from them.

Manyang said his office received a report of approximately 27 people being killed in an attack in Pibor in which 14,000 cattle were lost to Nuer Luo raiders.

Kuol acknowledged that feeding the displaced people will be the hardest job in the absence of UN food aid. He said he hoped the UN would resume its normal activities in the state soon. The UN recently lost a member of its World Food Program team in an ambush in Duk county.

The commissioner of the area, Akot Mazee told Sudan Tribune that over 400 people were killed. He said no women were killed and over 138,000 cattle were stolen in the eleven bomas of his county that were under attack.

Mazee, who described the attack as a “disaster to human lives” said the Nuer launched attacks on eleven bomas of Kongokong, Leon and Jom among others.

“I have no words or language to convince them, but it would be better if Nuer can stop fighting and resort to peaceful means”, he said.

He said the displaced people were camped in two places: 3,000 in Lekuangule and 6,000 in Pibor.

In an interview with Sudan Tribune 29 April, Pibor county MP, Baba Medan Konyi, who chairs the health and education committee in the parliament, said that about 8,000 Nuer Lou youths, armed with AK-47s and Gem 3 rifles attacked Kongkong and Jom areas during 19-21 April raiding 750,000 cattle from Murle.

"When I went to the battle fields, there about 450 dead lying on the ground." Baba said.

Medan who visited Pibor county with the World Food Program (WFP) officials this week said over 3,000 families were displaced in the two areas of attacks to Pibor headquarters adding that a lack of food, medical care and shelter are the major challenges facing them.

According to Medan, the little food aid available in WFP stores in Pibor was given to the displaced people through the South Sudan Rehabilitation and Relief Commission (SSRRC) office in Pibor but was not sufficient.

Medan also mentioned the presence of Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) in Pibor giving medical support to the displaced population which he said does not have sufficient medical supplies.

According to Medan, UN officials pledged to provide food aid and temporary shelters to the displaced people in the area but no significant progress has yet been made.

"UN officials assured us in Pibor that they will bring more food aid and plastics sheets for sheltering, but they have not turned up now. I had heard that the UN wants to quit operations in Jonglei, this not good because Jonglei is safe like other states in South Sudan. They must continue providing help regardless of insecurity", he continued.

Concerned by cattle rustling and raiding practices in the triangular conflicting zones of Dinka Bor, Nuer and Murle, Medan suggested the deployment of heavy security units along the borders of the three major tribes

Medan called upon the state government to take quick actions to protect its people in Pibor. He said Sudan People’s Liberation Army troops currently in Languangule are insufficient to provide full protection to civilians.

The Murle-Dinka border has not been peaceful since 1983 North-South Sudan civil war began. Late last week, there was a report of attacks believed to have been carried out by Murle cattle rustlers in Twic East, killing two people and stealing a number of cattle. Also last week, two people were reported to have been killed by members of the Murle ethnic group, while guarding cattle in the grazing fields. These incidents happened in Kolnyang payam (Cueikeer boma) and Makuach payam (Kapat boma).

Incidents of cattle raiding and child abduction may increase in mid-May, across the state as the rainy season starts.