An estimated 30,000 people have been reportedly displaced following violent clashes by armed groups in the Greater Pibor Administrative Area of South Sudan. Both the country's humanitarian community and the international community are calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says in a statement released today that on 24 December armed young men from Jonglei State attacked communities in parts of the Greater Pibor Area.
According to OCHA, the violence has led to cattle raiding, destruction of properties, and displacement of thousands of people. Some 5,000 internally displaced people (IDPs), including women and children, have arrived in Pibor town after fleeing the conflict areas of Gumuruk and Lekuangole.
“People have suffered enough. Civilians – especially those most vulnerable – women, children, the elderly and the disabled – bear the brunt of this prolonged crisis”, Ms. Sara Beysolow Nyanti, Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, said in a statement.
According to OCHA, UN agencies and their partner organizations are providing much needed assistance to those affected by the recent violence. The violent outbreak follows another massive displacement of an estimated 50,000 civilians which was triggered by fighting mid-November 2022 in Fashoda County, Upper Nile State.
Meanwhile, the UN mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) together with international partners called on Wednesday for the immediate end to the mounting violence in the Greater Pibor area by armed youth from Jonglei state. They urged involved parties to immediately cease hostilities, exercise restraint and respect human rights.
UNMISS, the African Union mission (AUMISS), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the European Union (EU), the Troika countries (United States, United Kingdom, and Norway), and the commission overseeing the peace agreement signed by the warring parties in South Sudan (Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, R-JMEC) - in a joined statement on Wednesday - expressed their grave concern about the “escalating ongoing violence, loss of life and reports of alleged use of heavy weaponry”.
UNMISS and international partners called on South Sudanese leaders to urgently intervene to stop the fighting and ensure the safety and security of civilians as well as unimpeded humanitarian access to people affected by the fighting. They also emphasized the need to investigate and hold accountable all perpetrators of the conflict, including those who are instigating and inciting violence and those responsible for the abduction of women and children.
UNMISS, AUMISS, IGAD, the Troika, EU and R-JMEC strongly encouraged national politicians and traditional leaders to persuade youth to immediately stop the violence and pursue a dialogue-based approach that focuses on restoring calm and peacefully resolving the root causes of the conflict.
South Sudan is in the midst of a catastrophic humanitarian crisis driven by years of brutal civil war. With 4.6 million people forcibly displaced, South Sudan has the highest proportion - 40 percent - of its population displaced of any country in Africa. Nearly 2.5 million people have fled to neighboring countries. Continued insecurity across the Upper Nile Region is still forcing thousands of civilians to flee their homes. South Sudan continues to be the most violent context for aid workers, followed by Afghanistan and Syria.
The country is also facing a major hunger crisis due to armed conflict, localized violence, dramatic flooding, worsening food insecurity and economic destabilization. Currently some 6.6 million people - 57% of South Sudan’s population - are experiencing high levels of acute food insecurity. The UN estimates that 9.4 million people will require humanitarian assistance in 2023, an increase of half a million people compared to 2022.
Full text: Violent clashes in South Sudan intensify the humanitarian situation, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), press release, published December 29, 2022
Full text: UNMISS and international partners gravely concerned about escalating violence in Greater Jonglei, United Nations Mission in South Sudan, press release, published December 28, 2022