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Tribal, rebel clashes wreck areas in South Sudan

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 6, 2013
A tribal conflict is worsening in South Sudan’s largest state, where the U.S. estimates more than 100,000 civilians already have been displaced, according to a satellite monitoring project.

New images released Tuesday by the Satellite Sentinel Project show a wide area of destroyed neighborhoods in Pibor and Boma counties in Jonglei, South Sudan’s eastern state.

The images from May and June also show a significantly larger camp of the nation’s army, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, in Pibor.

The violence in Jonglei results from a generations-old old conflict between the Murle and Lou Nuer tribes primarily over cattle, the local economy’s lifeblood. Both tribes routinely steal each other’s livestock.

A rebellion led by Murle insurrectionist David Yau Yau and large-scale human rights abuses against the Murle by South Sudan’s army have aggravated the violence. The onset of the rainy season risks compounding the humanitarian crisis.

“The escalating humanitarian crisis for Jonglei’s civilian population demands stronger international action,” said John Prendergast, who co-founded the Satellite Sentinel Project with Hollywood actor George Clooney. “The government of South Sudan must act swiftly to ease ethnic tensions, end rebel violence, hold accountable its own forces for abuses, and allow civilians access to emergency aid.”

On July 23, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit sacked his Cabinet, including his chief political rival, Vice President Riek Machar; and his top peace negotiator with Sudan, Pagan Amum.

Mr. Kiir has since installed a smaller Cabinet, but has yet to fill the post of vice president.

In a phone call last month, Secretary of State John F. Kerry urged Mr. Kiir  to take urgent steps to end the “deeply disturbing violence” in Jonglei, and said those responsible for attacks on civilians, including the army, must be held accountable.

Meanwhile, health centers in parts of Jonglei have been looted and destroyed, depriving civilians of access to medicines and medical care.

Mr. Prendergast said the international community must redouble its efforts to get humanitarian assistance to Jonglei.

South Sudan became the world’s newest nation in July 2011, securing its independence from Sudan following a two-decade-long civil war that claimed about 2 million lives.

 

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