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UNMISS says concerned about clashes in South Sudan

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December 9, 2019 (JUBA) – The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has expressed concerns over the recent clashes in the country, days after it deployed peacekeepers to end violence in Western Lakes state.

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David Shearer (UN photo)

Over the weekend, a fresh outbreak of tribal clashes and other internal fighting reportedly resulted in the death and displacement of civilians in the central and northern regions of the war-torn nation.

“These clashes in areas that have been relatively calm for many months is worrying,” remarked David Shearer, the head of UNMISS.

“The parties in South Sudan have respected the ceasefire signed in 2018 but these intercommunal incidents raise tensions and increase the risk of sparking more serious violence,” he added.

The UN official said shortage of food and access to basic services in the wake of the civil war has put huge pressure on communities.

“The recent flooding has worsened this situation by destroying crops and pasture which will have a long-term impact on food availability in the coming months,” noted Shearer.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), nearly a million people have been affected by heavy rainfall and subsequent flooding, of whom 620,000 need humanitarian assistance.

In October, the South Sudanese President Salva Kiir declared a state of emergency in the flood-affected areas of the country.

“It is vital that people do not turn to violence as a solution to the dire economic situation or because of political uncertainty. Reconciliation and peace-building is the only viable path to development and, ultimately, prosperity for all South Sudanese,” he added.

Over the weekend, UNMISS said it received reports of clashes over supplies being transported by barge near Jikou, in Upper Nile.

Humanitarian workers, it added, were relocated out of the area for their own safety.

In a separate incident, there were reports of internal fighting within the ranks of an armed group in north-western Unity region.

Meanwhile, there were other intercommunal clashes in the Lakes region. On 8 December, fighting reportedly broke out between the Rup and Pakam communities with incidents of cattle-raiding and revenge attacks taking place six kilometers south-east of Rumbek.

There has also been fighting reported in Cuetakuet Island, which is a disputed area located on the Nile about 145 kilometers north of Bor.

The number of casualties from these incidents is yet to be verified.

UNMISS, however, said it is working with authorities at the local and national level to resolve these disputes and will continue to support reconciliation and peace-building among affected communities.

(ST)

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