New York, US (PANA) - The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) on Wednesday said it had sent patrol units and a medical team to an area on the country’s border with Ethiopia where unidentified raiders reportedly attacked several cattle camps occupied by members of the Lou Nuer ethnic group.
UNMISS, in a statement made available to PANA in New York, said the patrol and medical teams were dispatched to Akobo and Wanding areas to determine the
circumstances of the reported attacks and to provide medical aid to those affected.
It quoted information provided by local authorities as stating that, ``most of the cattle camps that were attacked are located on the Ethiopia side of the border, and some 63 wounded people have been treated in the hospital on Akobo town, but reliable casualty figures, including deaths, are not yet available''.
The mission also condemned the attacks and urged all communities in Jonglei state to exercise restraint and put an end to the violence that has resulted in heavy loss of lives in recent years.
It noted that, ``the latest attacks came even as the Government of South Sudan appointed a peace committee to broker reconciliation between feuding communities in Jonglei''.
``A voluntary and simultaneous civilian disarmament process has also been launched in an effort to break the cycle of violence,'' it said.
Ms. Hilde Johnson, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for South Sudan and head of UNMISS, urged communities in Jonglei to cooperate to ensure that the government’s peace initiatives are successfully implemented.
She also called on the government to effectively carry out its responsibility to protect civilians.
``It is very good in our view that the Government has decided to use voluntary disarmament as the approach and we are seeing that they are putting community chiefs, local commissioners, in charge, together with the police, and the SPLA, the army, is only standing by in case of violence or major resistance,” she said.
According to her: ``UNMISS has a mandate to protect civilians. We will therefore monitor carefully what is happening. We will have a presence on the ground with our troops''.
``We are also likely to have joint monitoring teams with presence from government institutions that are not involved in the disarmament process,'' Johnson added.
Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that thousands of members of the Lou Nuer community from South Sudan have sought refuge in western Ethiopia.
It said that, ``an estimated 15,000 people, most of them women, children and the elderly, who fled from Akobo county in Jonglei state have entered Ethiopia since
It also stated that, ``the refugees have cited clashes with members of the rival Murle community and fear of reprisal attacks as the main reason for their flight''.
PANA learnt that clashes between the two groups, which have history of inter-communal feuds resulting from cattle rustling have affected some 120,000 people in Jonglei since December.
-0- PANA AA/VAO 14March2012