Juba, South Sudan,
May 15, 2021 — Barely four months after signing an agreement with Jonglei State to quell inter-communal tensions, residents in Pibor Administrative Area are fleeing a renewed wave of violence orchestrated by armed youths.
Pibor Youth Secretary-General for External Affairs, David Nyirol, says the escalating tension could blow out of proportions if no intervention is made by the government as armed youth from Jonglei State encroach Pibor.
He said the recent wave of violence on Pibor residents started on May 7 when armed youths captured a few areas in Greater Pibor Administrative Area.
“This incident took place around the areas of Nanaam, Kongor Tanginyar near Pibor. The armed youths have displaced people and took away herds of cattle but we could not estimate the exact number of cattle they have taken,” Nyirol said.
By the time of this writing, Nyirol said they could not establish the number of casualties, people wounded, as well as children and women who are probably abducted.
The Secretary-General believes that groups of youths from Gawaar and Nyarweang triggered the new wave of violence causing insecurity in the area. Nyirol said some raided cattle have been recovered.
“While we cannot ascertain the exact motive of the attack, it is very possible that some youth went and raided cattle but the GPAA authorities recovered the cattle and the Chief Administrator was in the process to hand over those herd of cattle to the rightful owners from Jonglei State,” he said.
Nyirol recalled the Jonglei peace conference held in Juba in January this year saying a committee was formed and tasked to monitor any group that may violate and instigate further conflict in the region.
“The resolution stated that in case of any attacks caused by any community, the authorities of that state or that community should immediately take action to recover back children or cattle raided if there’s any,” he explained.
Last month, authorities in Greater Pibor handed over about 54 abducted children to Jonglei State leadership at Pieri county stressing that the event was witnessed by UNICEF.
Nyirol expressed fear over the enormous number of armed youths making headway into the region, saying their action will be in violation of the pact signed in Juba.
“The number of the attackers is about ten thousand youths and this means they have already violated the peace agreement which was signed during the peace conference,” he said.
The peace conference between the two regions was believed to bring a lasting solution. But the culture of cattle raiding seems to be a persistent threat to stability.
Mr. Nyiro is appealing to the High-level committee which was headed by Dr. James Wani Igga to make an intervention.
During the conference in January, furious President Salva Kiir made a stern warning of withdrawing his support for peace between the two communities.
“Next time you go for fighting I will not come to help you again, and even I will not appoint any committee to go and investigate the fight in the area. I have decided that any fight that takes place will not be stopped by the police or the military, I will leave you to fight,’’ emotional Kiir said as he wipes tears.
Earlier this week, Greater Pibor Chief Administrator, Joshua Konyi, said the situation remained tense.
“The situation is worse in three payams, Likwangole, Gumruk, and Vertet since last week fighting is ongoing,” he said.
Jonglei Commissioner Yuot Alier Hok could not be reached for comments as his network connectivity was breaking.
Jonglei State Governor Denay Chagor said areas riddled with conflicts like his state have stunted because the people are told to embrace peace with no alternative.
This, he said, has contributed deeply to the collapse of a previous peace deal signed to bring sanity in Jonglei and Pibor.
“The reason why the problem is not resolved is that the innocent citizens in Jonglei and Pibor Administrative Area are not the problems. The problem is with us [politicians],’’ he said.
“As we all know that there are so many good resolutions written about Jonglei; so many good documents on how to solve this conflict but yet this conflict has not been resolved,’’ Chagor bemoaned.
The Governor said that building more schools to raise the literacy levels and creating jobs could be the masterstroke to solving the insecurity-especially wiping out cattle rustling.
“It is so difficult for somebody who grew up doing cattle raids to stop [it] while there are not any means of development in their village. Now we are telling them that you lay down your gun and sit down and do nothing. That is not possible,’’ he said.