January 17, 2012 (JUBA) – Jonglei state’s Pochalla county commissioner says suspected militia from the neighbouring Pibor county are migrating to the area where they have “sandwiched” themselves among local civilians.
- Pochala commissioner Joseph Okello Wello sits outside his office in Pochala town on Feb. 15, 2012 (ST)
In an email to Sudan Tribune, Commissioner Joseph Okello Wello says the intrusion of armed men poses a security threat to the local population.
“There is [an] influx of [David] Yau Yau [militia] forces. They are sandwiched in among the civilian population [when they] migrate to this [Pochalla] county,” said Okello.
While there have been no incidents in the county so far, Okello says the migration of neighbouring populations remains a cause for alarm.
“We are too much disturbed because they did not come from one side. They are filling almost [the entire] western part of the county. Our administrative guess is that they did not come for peace,” he said.
Rebel fighters under David Yau Yau have been operating in his home county of Pibor after a fresh rebellion resumed in April 2012.
Yau Yau, who hails from the Murle ethnic group, first launched his fight against the South Sudanese government in 2010 after losing elections to represent his county in the Jonglei state assembly.
He returned to Juba in 2011 after accepting an amnesty offer by president Salva Kiir, but subsequently defected to Khartoum before resuming a military campaign in lawless territories of Jonglei state.
Attacks since the onset of 2013 have been blamed on Murle tribesmen believed to be loyal to Yau Yau.
Since March 2012, South Sudan’s police and army have conducted a state-wide disarmament campaign in Jonglei after violence between rival cattle herding groups escalated dramatically towards the end of 2011.
Over the last two years, the United Nations estimates that around 2,000 people have been killed in raids and counter raids often involving between the Murle from Pibor and neighbouring groups such as the Luo Nuer and Dinka Bor.
Although Yau Yau is often blamed for cattle raids in the areas surrounding Pibor, some local leaders have cast doubt over whether his group can be blamed for all the incidents.
Juba has repeatedly claimed that Khartoum backs southern rebel groups in an attempt to destabilise the young nation, which gained independence in July 2011.
Sudan denies the claims, insisting that it is Juba backing rebels in the conflict-riven areas of Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile.