The United Nations and local officials estimate that raids and counter-raids have resulted in nearly 3,000 deaths.
Increased fighting between government forces and a rebel group, combined with instances of inter-communal violence, are exacerbating an existing humanitarian emergency in South Sudan. Much of the trouble is centered in Jonglei state, where aid groups say women and children are increasingly vulnerable.
Recently independent after a lengthy civil war with Sudan, the Republic of South Sudan was rocked by violence late last year between the Lou Neur and Murle peoples, rival ethnic groups who have long disputed areas of Jonglei and other states for farming or cattle herding. The United Nations and local officials estimate that raids and counter-raids have resulted in nearly 3,000 deaths. The new government sent in troops to quell the disturbances and disarm tribal fighters, but since then the troops have come under repeated attack by rebels led by David Yau Yau, who have been challenging the authority of the government since soon after independence.
The United States is monitoring the unrest in Jonglei state closely and urges that the civilian population be protected. We are actively engaged in activities to prevent and mitigate conflict there and respond to humanitarian needs as arise.
We commend efforts by the Government of the Republic of South Sudan to broker peace and reconciliation, but urge officials there to take additional steps to ensure accountability for those who abuse human rights, including investigations in allegations of human rights violations and allowing monitoring organizations immediate access to the area. As they perform their disarmament duties, government security forces must respect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms. And if recent gains in the nation’s lengthy peace process are to be maintained, all parties and communities must work to foster an inclusive sense of national identity and common purpose.