Juba, South Sudan,
July 12, 2021 – A bloody intercommunal fighting between Lou Paher and Luanyjang communities in the Greater Tonj areas of Warrap State has resumed with several feared dead.
State officials say the clashes were reported in the Marial Lou area and it has dragged on for three days after its onset on Friday.
Warrap State Minister of Information Ring Deng confirmed to the media that the fighting was ongoing but said he was yet to obtain more details.
“Today, they resumed fighting, but I haven’t got full information. The fighting is between Tonj East and Tonj North counties,” Deng was quoted by Eye Radio to have said.
Violence in Tonj is not a new phenomenon. In August 2020, fighting erupted between members of the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces and armed youth around the village of Romich, about 100 kilometers east of Tonj town. The conflict was spurred by a disarmament attempt by members of the organized forces.
The incident killed 150 people and displaced 5000. Earlier this month, feuding communities from the areas of Kirik, Rualbet, Awul, Pagol, and Manalor in Tonj North County have unanimously resolved to end the violence that claimed hundreds of lives over the years.
“We have wasted a lot of our time fighting, and this is the time to stop,” said Paramount Chief Mabior Parek, speaking at a two-day dialogue in Kuajok, organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan. “We have rule of law institutions in place and families who feel aggrieved can seek justice there.”
About 30 participants, including chiefs, local authorities, youth, and women who took part in the dialogue said they are tired of insecurity and tense relations between communities. Renowned youth leader Ayii Cho Deng was one of them.
“I have attended so many peace conferences, but this should be the very last one. Whoever plays around with our peace this time round should be handed over to the government and dealt with,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of local women, Ms. Alok Kuot identified what she believes to be one of the root causes behind the violence that has persistently ruined community relations: the proliferation of arms among civilians.
“How is it possible that arms seem to be available to everyone? They destroy our country. It is a gun that makes a thief steal. I am calling on my government to take the arms away from our youth because they create disorder,” she said.
Peter Paduol Mangong, Minister of Local Government and Law Enforcement Agencies in Warrap State, commended the dialogue and the new agreement to coexist peacefully. For harmony to prevail, he said, communities need to identify and report criminals.
“If this peace agreement is to hold, we must not harbor criminals. Your government stands ready to hold them accountable,” the Minister was quoted by Relief Web.
However, the current tension could pose a new security threat to the region.