February 5, 2014 (JUBA) – The commissioner of Jonglei state’s Twic East county, Dau Akooi Jurkuch, claimed on Wednesday that roads to the region have been cut off by rebels, leaving thousands of civilians trapped without adequate food supplies.
Speaking to Sudan Tribune by phone from the capital, Bor, Jurkuch said last year’s poor harvest had left locals reliant on supplies from traders.
“We got the same information in Paliau, Ajuong, Maar and Panyagoor”, said Jurkuch, referring to Twic East county payams (districts) facing acute food shortage due to ongoing insecurity in the state’s lawless territories.
“We appeal to government to provide security and [to] humanitarian agencies for [food] supplies”, he added.
The commissioner, who visited Twic East with local MPs on Monday and Tuesday before returning to Bor, said rebels are allegedly based in Gadiang – about 10km east of Panyagoor, the headquarters of Twic East county.
“People are scared that there might be an attack on the villages”, he said, adding that there had been several reports of cattle raiding recorded by local chiefs allegedly carried out by rebel forces.
Sudan Tribune was unable to reach anti-government forces for comment.
Jonglei state changed hands four times during the peak of the crisis in South Sudan, which erupted following clashes in the capital, Juba, on 15 December between rival tribe members of the presidential guards.
Government troops loyal to president Salva Kiir have since been battling rebel forces aligned with former vice-president Riek Machar for control of strategic areas across the country.
The warring parties signed a peace deal in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on 23 January, but both sides have since accused each other of violating the terms of the agreement.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that some 743,400 people have been displaced inside South Sudan as a result of the conflict, including more than 133,000 in Jonglei state.
OCHA said violence in the strife-torn country had taken a terrible toll on people’s livelihoods, severely compromising their ability to move livestock to pasture, to fish or to hunt.
On Tuesday, the UN unvelied its Crisis Response Plan (CRP) for South Sudan, appealing for $1.27 billion to help meet the urgent humanitarian needs of more than 3 million people affected by the conflict.