May 25, 14 (BOR) – Jonglei state announced on Saturday that all government employees and civil servants must return to the state capital, Bor, to resume their duties despite over five months of conflict that has severely affected South Sudan’s largest state.
The demand by the Jonglei government for displaced people to return to Bor was first made in February just two months after the conflict began in December 2013. The fighting is between the South Sudanese government and rebels who have broken away from the ruling party (SPLM) and army (SPLA). Thousands have been killed and over one million people displaced.
Speaking after a cabinet meeting on Saturday during which the governor’s order was endorsed, Jonglei’s minister of information and communication, Jody Jonglei Boyoris, said that all civil servants should return to work or lose their positions.
"We have given them seven days to report to work otherwise the government may take measures they may not like. If they fail to show up at the end of seven days, we will terminate their services", said the minister of information while addressing the press in Bor.
This is the third call by the government employees to report to work, following previous efforts in February and March. The move will affect government employees and elected officials who defected from the South Sudanese government and joined the rebellion of former vice president Riek Machar in December last year.
"If you are the government employee, wherever you are, whether in Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, you must come to Bor for work. There is no need for you to be absent again. Those in [the] Mingakaman [internally displaced camp across the White Nile in neighbouring Lakes state] and other places in South Sudan must also come", the minister said.
The seven-day ultimatum began on Thursday 22 May, he said, and would be implemented across all departments and ministries. Only the civil servants who return to their duties would receive their pay.
Many of those who have been displaced from Bor and government controlled areas of Jonglei are from the Nuer ethnic group of Riek Machar. As well as fleeing to neighbouring Ethiopia around 5,000 mainly Nuer civilians have sought shelter at the United Nations Mission in South Sudan base in Bor.
"We have talked to [internally displaced people] IDPs in [the] UNMISS camp here in Bor to come out and do their normal duties. [The] UN cannot tell them to come out but the government will continue to persuade them to come out to join us in the offices", he added.
The government also cautioned Dinka Bor youth not to target Nuer in the state capital as it would it tarnished the name of the government.
In April armed Dinka Bor youth attacked the UN base killing dozens of people, raising the prospect that the Nuer IPDs would have to be relocated due the tensions in Bor which changed hands on four occasions in the first weeks of the conflict.