Inter-communal clashes see UNMISS increase patrols


An increase in inter-communal clashes in South Sudan’s Warrap State and neighbouring Abyei Special Administrative Region has seen the United Nations (UN) mission up patrol activities to contain a volatile situation.

An UNMISS statement has it “frequent clashes” led to an increase in the number of displaced people. Escalation of patrols by the 18 000 strong UN mission in the worst affected areas – Wunrok, Turalei and Ajakuac – aims to reduce tension in conflict affected communities.

Residents told UN peacekeepers and police fighting “scared us” and of being forced into situations with no choice “but to take up arms in self-defence”.

The safety and security threat was upped with a number of attacks earlier this month (March). Making matters worse is what county commissioner Deng Tong Goc called the prevailing “dire” humanitarian situation with aid needed in at least 13 locations.

“I visited several camps with displaced people and they need all the help they can. The Inter-cluster Co-ordination Group completed an emergency state level assessment but assistance has not reached the most vulnerable,” he said.

UNMISS continues to engage with community leaders, local authorities, grassroots influencers and uniformed actors for a peaceful, dialogue based solution to restore calm and stability an UNMISS statement said.

“If we resort to violence and vengeance to resolve differences, the situation will only deteriorate. There is no problem that cannot be settled peacefully, so we urge feuding parties to come together, speak about their concerns and find a mutually acceptable way forward, bringing an end to this suffering,” civil affairs officer Edwin Njonguo said.

Community members and local authorities are willing to engage in “productive conversations” and stress a need for national government do its best for a permanent solution to cross-border issues.

A patrolling UNMISS team met with a high-level fact finding committee, chaired by Vice President Hussein Abdelbagi, which is investigating a shooting incident last month at Aneet Market, resulting in deaths.

Twic County and Abyei Special Administrative Region have long been embroiled in land disputes. Recent conflict was sparked following a survey conducted by the Abyei authorities related to the ownership of the trade hub, Aneet Market, which escalated hostilities between the neighbouring communities. Seasonal movement of cattle herders adds to complex dynamics on the ground according to UNMISS.