By Bonifacio Taban Kuich
November 23, 2012 (KAMPALA) - A boy from Payinjiar County in Unity State is missing after cattle rustlers stole 397 heads of cattle from Dhormanyang village on Wednesday 21 November.
- Nuer herdsman, Nyal, South Sudan, November 2011 (Photo Getty)
Authorities in the area told Sudan Tribune on Friday that two boys, who had been looking after the cattle, were abducted in the raid, which occurred at 5:00pm. One managed to escape his captors but the other is still missing to the concern of government officials and the boy’s family.
Payinjiar County Commissioner, Peter Gai Joak, told Sudan Tribune, the suspects came from neighbouring Lake State. South Sudan’s police and army failed to pursue the raiders as they attacked in the evening and fled under darkness, he said.
Cattle raiding and related violence has claims thousands of lives, since smalls arms entered the region in huge numbers during South Sudan’s civil wars with various Khartoum governments.
Since South Sudan’s independence last year cattle raids have continued in many parts of the young nation. Cattle play a pivotal role in South Sudan’s economy and culture. They are often used to pay bride prices, motivating some young men to steel cattle so they can afford to get married.
In neighbouring Jonglei State, around 2,000 people have been killed in raids and counter raids over the last two years, according to United Nations figures. The raids, especially in Jonglei, often involve the abduction of women and children.
Lack of job opportunities for South Sudan’s youth is major problem for South Sudan, which is one of the poorest in world with some of the world worst development indicators. Less than 30% of the population are literate and around half the population are at risk from food insecurity this year, according to the UN.
The South Sudanese government has made several attempts to bring an end to the cycle of cattle raiding and related violence but it has persisted, especially along the tense borders between Unity, Lakes and Warrap State.
Last week 200 young people from the three states launched a peace initiative to end cattle raiding. The peace initiative was attended by South Sudan’s Vice President Riek Machar and the United Nations Special Representative to South Sudan, Hilde F. Johnson.
However, Commissioner Gai said he has tried his best to bring an end to the deadly practice through disarmament of the civilian population but reports by the Unity State government in 2011 found that no disarmament had taken place in Payinjiar County.
This year the county was reported to be hit hard by the flooding that affected many of South Sudan’s states in July. The people from the area depend on both meat and milk from cows but many have turned to fishing after their farms and crops were damaged by the heavy floods in Nyal and other Payams [districts] in Payinjiar.
The County Commissioner called on the central government in Juba to deploy more polices forces along the borders between Unity, Lakes and Warrap states to try and prevent cross border raids and violence. Such patrols coiuld could help bring peace to the area, he said.