Khartoum, Sudan (PANA) - The war may have ended in Sudan, north and south, but its legacy, especially fire arms, remains heavily felt, particularly for the poor and vulnerable groups, women and children in the remote villages.
This week's attack on seven villages in Jonglei, when Murle and Lou Nuer communities fought, leaving hundreds dead and over 250,000 persons displaced, according to local authorities in the south, is yet another example of how vulnerable groups continue to pay the price even after the war has ended.
The Special Representative of the UN Secretary General (SRSG), Hilde Johnson, told the UN-sponsored Radio Miraya that the UN was deeply concerned about the violent attacks in recent days and urged for restraint amongst the Murle and Lou Nuer communities in Jonglei State.
The radio station said clashes had reportedly resulted in at least 600 casualties and unconfirmed reports of between 750-985 people wounded.
Local reports received by UNMISS suggest that between 26,000 and 30,000 cattle were stolen during the attacks and many homes have been destroyed.
State authorities informed UNMISS that over 250,000 people have been displaced by the fighting in Pieri, Motat and Pulchol villages in Uror County, Jonglei State and nearly 200 people may have been abducted.
"This cycle of violence must stop. That so many people have been killed and injured again in such wanton destruction is unacceptable. I urge restraint by both sides of this tragic conflict. Reconciliation efforts are now urgently needed. UNMISS is willing and ready to support such a process to this effect," Johnson was quoted by the south-based radio as saying.
The SRSG added that the security of all South Sudanese people must come first, stressing that UNMISS would assist all relevant stakeholders in preventing further violence causing so much unnecessary suffering.
The African Union has, meanwhile, expressed deep concern and shock over the death of hundreds of people in an ethnically-based attack in South Sudan.
"The Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU) has learnt with shock and concern that an ethnically-based massive attack on two districts in Uror County, State of Jonglei, in the Republic of South Sudan, has led to the death of hundreds of people, while many others have been injured or abducted, including children, in addition to the destruction of property and stealing of cattle," a statement by the chairman of the African Union Commission, Dr. Jean Ping said.
The statement, issued in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and received in Khartoum, said Ping has sent AU’s condolences to the bereaved families and to the entire people of South Sudan and its government.
The international humanitarian organization, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Tuesday said that hundreds of persons were feared dead and injured in South Sudan.
It revealed that many of those injured and referred for medical care were women and children suffering from gunshot wounds in that ethnic-based attack in Jongeli State, South Sudan.
MSF said in its press statement from Juba, capital of South Sudan, that the victims included staffers of the international organization itself, adding that the organization had treated over 100 people in the South Sudanese town of Pieri, following a raid there and in 12 surrounding villages in Jonglei State last week.
"While the numbers of deaths and wounded are difficult to confirm, villagers have reported to MSF that over 400 people have been killed in Pieri alone and almost half of the houses in the town have been destroyed," the statement said.
The African Union statement said Ping has urged the Government of the Republic of South Sudan to pursue and intensify the efforts being undertaken to prevent the reoccurrence of such devastating violence, bring the perpetrators to justice and promote lasting reconciliation among the concerned communities.
He reiterated "AU’s commitment, in close coordination with UNMISS and other stakeholders, to assist in whatever way possible the efforts of the government in this respect."
PANA noted that in most areas of Southern Sudan where cattle are valued for their social, rather that material significance, cattle raiding and counter-raiding constitute the norm of the day.
It is part of the cultural heritage but usually the raids ended with the two parties reconciling and the deaths usually very few.
However, with the spread of fire arms, every tiny clash seems to develop into a devastating tragedy, leaving behind scores dead and hundreds injured.
-0- PANA MO/BOS 24Aug2011