January 3, 2012 (JUBA) — Ban Ki Moon, the United Nations Secretary General on Monday urged South Sudan President, Salva Kiir to focus on addressing the root cause of the recurring conflict between Murle and Luo Nuer communities in the country’s most populous Jonglei state.
- Ban Ki-moon (UN)
In a telephone conversation from New York with South Sudan President Salva Kiir, the UN boss expressed his firm commitment to protect civilians engulfed in the conflict, but said dialogue was important in resolving the ongoing tensions.
The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), Ki Moon assured, is fully mobilized to assist the southern government in efforts to ease the ongoing tensions, adding that the commitment to the rule of law and respect for human rights was fundamental.
Continuous inter-communal clashes, in recent days, between the Luo Nuer and Murle tribes in Pibor County, Jonglei have reportedly killed nearly 150 people, with over 50,000 displaced, according to the UN, while several villages have also been burnt to the ground.
Lise Grande, the deputy special representative to the Secretary General in South Sudan in a press conference held Tuesday from Juba said the UN was deeply concerned about the worsening security situation on the region, less than six months after the country attained independence.
“Many people have fled with little or no supplies. They are hungry, without access to clean water and on the move,” said Grande, also the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the country.
"The situation on the ground now in humanitarian terms is grim, " she said. "Because people fled town, they didn’t take anything with them, they’ve been in the bush many of them for up to a week. They haven’t had food, they haven’t had access to clean water, in a number of cases some of their people are wounded, they haven’t had shelter."
Fighting between the two rival communities in Jonglei, according to the UN, spiked in April, June and August and most recently in the last week of December 2011.
Last month, a group of activists warned that the “lack” of political will to resolve the persistent tribal conflict between the Murle and Luo Nuer communities could spark an outbreak of “genocide” in the region.
Over 3,000 people, Jonglei state officials say, are believed to have died in the ongoing inter-ethnic conflict in 2011 alone, while about 63,000 people have reportedly been displaced, according to reports by local authorities and assessment teams.