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Over 120,000 affected by South Sudan clashes - UN

01-21-2012 08:53 BJT

UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- More than 120,000 people affected by the recent violence in South Sudan's Jonglei state may need emergency assistance, which is twice the original estimate, the United Nations humanitarian official in the African country said on Friday.

Hilde Johnson, special representative of the UN secretary- general in South Sudan, called for an immediate end to the cycle of violence in Jonglei state, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters here Friday.

UN APPEAL

Johnson condemned the use of violence by communities and urged their political, traditional and youth leaders to do their utmost to end the killings and confrontations, and was particularly concerned about continued statements that could incite ethnic violence, Nesirky said at a daily news briefing.

"The ongoing security crisis in Jonglei state is a test for all of us," said Johnson, who is also the head of he UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

"All concerned should redouble their efforts to put an immediate end to the cycle of violence, which is putting thousands of lives at risk and threatening the stability of the whole area," she added.

Johnson also urged the government to deploy additional forces and strengthen its forces in the key areas to stop further violence, saying this would also provide the basis for a peace process between the Jonglei communities.

"The special representative welcomed the government's decision to establish a peace team to lead the peace process," said the UN spokesman.

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) had been relocating its military forces to areas most at risk. "The peacekeepers have provided medical aid and helped evacuate a number of people from the village of Duk Padiet, where the latest attack took place on Monday night," said Nesirky.

"Looking back on the new country's first six months of independence, she also underscored the importance of relations between Sudan and South Sudan," the spokesman said. "And she welcomed the political and security reforms that were introduced in South Sudan."

Fighting between Lou Nuer and Murle communities escalated sharply in late December, causing tens of thousands of people to flee their homes in Pibor County and resulting in casualties, destruction of property and livelihoods.

Retaliatory attacks were then launched on communities in Akobo, Uror and Duk counties. The most recent attack took place on Jan. 16, when 80 people were reportedly killed and 300 houses burnt in Duk Padiet in Duk County, according to local authorities.

"The violence in Jonglei hasn't stopped," Lise Grande, the UN humanitarian coordinator for South Sudan, told a news conference in the capital, Juba.

UN ACTION

"Only two weeks ago we launched a massive emergency operation to help 60,000 people. As a result of recent attacks, we now estimate that double that number will need help," said Grande.

On Thursday, the top UN envoy in South Sudan called for an immediate end to the ethnic violence in the newly independent nation, and urged the government to hold the perpetrators to account and to deploy more forces to key areas to avert further bloodshed.

Humanitarian assistance is being provided in violence-affected areas and assessments are continuing, said a news release from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

A humanitarian response and coordination hub has been established in Pibor town and 15 aid groups are present on the ground, working to repair water points and provide food, household items, emergency education, nutrition, protection and medical assistance. Help is also being provided in Gumuruk, Likuangole, Boma and Walgak, and other villages will receive aid soon.

The recent spike in inter-communal violence has compounded an already difficult humanitarian situation in South Sudan, OCHA stated. Aid agencies were already supporting 30 simultaneous emergency operations before the crisis in Jonglei began.

Jonglei state has been the scene of confrontations between the Murle and Lou Nuer peoples, who have a history of conflict over land and resources for cattle grazing.

Since mid-2011, tensions on the border with Sudan have also escalated, triggering fresh displacements. In May 2011, violence erupted in Abyei, displacing 110,000 people into Agok and South Sudan where they remain displaced.

In addition, ongoing conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in Sudan has caused approximately 80,000 people to flee into South Sudan since June 2011. Hundreds of new refugees continue to arrive every week.

"Operations in South Sudan are some of the most difficult and expensive in the region due to the combination of poor infrastructure and limited accessibility," said Grande, also deputy special representative at UNMISS.

"It's a race against time every year to ensure that life-saving supplies are purchased and pre-positioned before the rains arrive, " she said. "These attacks have occurred at the beginning of the dry season when stocks are at their lowest."

Grande deemed it essential that the 763-million-dollar appeal for humanitarian work in South Sudan, covering 271 projects among 110 organizations, is adequately resourced early this year to ensure that assistance can be provided on time.

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Editor:Zhang Hao |Source: Xinhua

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