Photo Credits: UN News
On Wednesday, December 28, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) released a statement alongside its international partners expressing grave concern for “the escalating ongoing violence, loss of life and reports of alleged use of heavy weaponry”. Furthermore, they urged involved parties to “immediately cease hostilities, exercise restraint and respect human rights.”
The statement followed reports of clashes between armed youths of the Nuer and Murle ethnic groups in Greater Pibor that have left at least 57 dead since Sunday, December 26. UNMISS and its associated parties called on South Sudanese leaders to urgently intervene and ensure the safety of civilians and unimpeded humanitarian access to those affected by the clashes. They also emphasised the need for accountability for all perpetrators of the conflict.
Additionally, the statement encouraged national politicians and traditional leaders to push for an immediate cessation of the violence and pursue a dialogue-based approach that is focused on peacefully resolving the root causes of the conflict. UNMISS and its partners said they “stand ready to provide all necessary support to protect civilians in affected areas.” They note that fighting of this nature in the past has led to significant loss of life and widespread civilian displacement.
Since its beginning in 2011, South Sudan has been wrought by conflict. While a peace agreement in 2018 - the R-ARCSS - ended the South Sudanese Civil War on paper, the conflict has largely continued to this day with persistent violent clashes and escalating tensions. Fighting between ethnic groups, like this latest clash in Greater Pibor, serves as a common feature of the conflict. Furthermore, government forces consistently fail to maintain security and are often some of the main perpetrators of the conflict.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) says an estimated 30,000 civilians from the Greater Pibor area have fled their homes in the wake of the recent inter-ethnic conflict. This widespread displacement has been compounded by recent severe floods, the worst in more than 50 years. It is estimated that almost 20% of the population, some 2.2 million people, are internally displaced. Additionally, the UN warns that up to 10 million out of a population of 12 million will need food aid in 2023.
The world’s newest country continues to rely on international humanitarian aid. This year alone, the Central Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) has allocated 54 million USD for humanitarian projects in South Sudan. On Thursday, December 22, the latest 14 million USD was allocated. Still, South Sudan’s emergency remains underfinanced and many are panicking over an estimated drop in funding to 67% of what is required. South Sudan continues to struggle in implementing its roadmap to a stable and democratic peace.
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