With the new year having begun with an escalation of longstanding tensions between some communities in Jonglei and Greater Pibor respectively, Lieutenant-General Mohan Subramanian, Force Commander of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) spent last week in situ.
In meetings with local authorities and security organs to de-escalate hostilities, the Force Commander reiterated the peacekeeping mission’s message as expressed in a press statement issued on 7 January: violence must be replaced with dialogue, differences resolved peacefully, and perpetrators brought to justice to prevent further fighting.
“Protecting civilians, our top priority, requires responsive and agile measures to reduce tensions and prevent violent, deadly conflicts,” Lieutenant-General Subramanian, said when he landed in Bor.
During his visit to Greater Pibor, he interacted with the Area’s Acting Chief Administrator and other local leaders, military commanders, high-level police, chiefs, and youth representatives, with one sole item on the agenda: restoring normality following a particularly deadly clash in Poktap, Duk County. During the incident, reportedly triggered by a cattle raid, several lives were lost, numerous residents were injured, and thousands of animals stolen.
“People who fled the area are living in an open space and lack virtually everything. Those who stayed in Duk remain in fear of the attackers, who are still believed to be in the vicinity,” said James Yen Jal, a Member of Parliament representing Duk County in the Jonglei Legislative Assembly, adding that an estimated 4,000 displaced persons are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.
Intercommunal violence has long marred relations in Jonglei and Greater Pibor. Numerous peace dialogues, many of them supported by the peacekeeping mission, have been held over the last few years, but they have so far proved insufficient to root out underlying tensions.
“An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind. Revenge killings must stop and the best way to start this process is by allowing justice and the rule of law to prevail. On behalf of UNMISS, your peace for partner, I reaffirm the mission’s commitment to protect civilians and support the process to achieve durable peace across South Sudan,” the Force Commander averred.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).