Southern Sudan is a new nation, but it seems old habits die hard.
There has been ongoing conflict between the Lou Nuer and the Murle communities since the early part of this year. Actually since what seems like forever, but the fighting had died down for a while. Recent attacks between the two groups have been escalating.
In June, Nuer fighters attacked a number of locations in Pibor county killing around a 1000 people, displacing thousands, stealing cattle, and abducting women and children. Two weeks ago Murle i attacked several locations in Uror County, killing around 650 people, displacing thousands, stealing cattle and abducting women and children as well.
Each community is giving tit for tat and each time the numbers rise and the violence gets worse.
On Friday last week I saw this tweet:
@estoni Evacuated staff from #MSF Pibor camp today. Nuer retribution raid on Murle is on its way. There is great fear of more bloodshed #SouthSudan
MSF normally won’t make a major decision like that unless they are strongly convinced something is going to happen.
People on all sides have been aware that another fight is going to take place. For the past week there have been rumors of Nuer gathering around Akobo and planning a large assault on Pibor. The UN has posted soldiers in a few locations with “chapter 7” authority (I believe this means they can shoot guns). The SPLA has apparently dispatched soldiers in some areas as well. Somehow it just seems to little and too late.
Tonight I got information about fighting taking place less than two hours away by foot from Pibor town. I also heard that MSF is completely evacuating all staff out of PIbor first thing tomorrow morning.
I fear for the next few days. There is a potential for the death of many. What seems frustrating is that this has been known beforehand and very little has been done to try and stop it.
Tonight my heart is sad for Jonglei.