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South Sudan mobilises for humanitarian intervention in Jonglei’s Pibor county

February 1, 2013 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s national government is mobilizing for humanitarian intervention in the troubled Pibor town where thousands of people were recently displaced due to clashes between the army and former rebels of David Yau Yau.

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WFP’s field officer Gabriel Ajak talking to people displaced in Pibor County, January 20, 2012 (ST)

Over 200 former rebels, under the command of James Kuburin defected last week from David Yau Yau and entered Pibor town to join the South Sudanese army (SPLA).

However, a misunderstanding ensued when some of the defecting soldiers tried to enter a market in town with their guns, a move the SPLA rejected, hence resulting into clashes. The rebels were then chased out of the town again into the bushes.

The fighting left at least five people dead, three of whom were civilians. Many others were wounded and half of the town was burnt down, displacing thousands of civilians into the bushes.

Over 3,000 civilians also entered the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) compound for protection, food and shelter, with the situation reported as constituting a humanitarian disaster.

In an urgent meeting on Thursday between South Sudan’s Vice President, Riek Machar and the minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Joseph Lual Achuil, in the presence of the UNMISS Special Representative, Hilde Johnson, the government announced it will lift into Pibor town emergency humanitarian assistance to the affected population of the Murle community.

In a statement to the press after the meeting, the chairperson of South Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (SSRRC), Peter Lam Both, said the government’s humanitarian institutions will soon send both food and material items such as tents and blankets, among others to Pibor town.

The UN mission in the country, he added, will assist in transporting the items to Pibor County.

Meanwhile the security situation in Pibor town is now calm, according to the deputy minister of Interior, Gen. Salva Mathok Gengdit. The deputy minister, who led a team on a fact-finding mission to Pibor on Thursday briefed the Vice President on their findings, including their recommendations on the way forward.

The deputy Interior minister, in a statement to the state-owned South Sudan Television (SSTV) also announced that former rebels, under the command of Kuburin have now again returned to Pibor town and peacefully rejoined the SPLA after their unintended clashes.

He however revealed that a number of measures will be taken, including relocating from Pibor County to other areas both the SPLA forces that are currently in Pibor town and the former rebels who have joined so that confidence is built among the civil population in the area.

He also called for thorough investigation into the violent incidence that occurred between the army and the former rebels, adding that the

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WFP’s field officer Gabriel Ajak talking to people displaced in Pibor County, January 20, 2012 (ST)

perpetrators should be brought to justice.