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In the news: Thousands flee clashes in South Sudan

The eruption of violence in the Jonglei region is the latest challenge to efforts to cement peace following the formation of a unity government in February.

Rebels release child soldiers in Pibor town
Rebels release child soldiers in Pibor town, South Sudan. (UNMISS, May 2018)

Thousands of people are fleeing ongoing inter-communal clashes in South Sudan’s Jonglei State and the newly created Greater Pibor Administrative Area – the latest challenge to efforts to cement peace following last month’s formation of a unity government. 

Medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières reported an influx of 83 wounded patients last week in Jonglei and said it had treated 45 gunshot wounds in Pibor, as fighting between large groups of Lou Nuer and neighbouring Murle pastoralists continued. It's an area that was hard-hit by flooding last year.

“We are very worried about the extreme level of violence that some of the patients have been subjected to,” Claudio Miglietta, MSF head of mission in South Sudan, said. “This is not just a matter of providing medical care, it is also a protection concern, with some of the most vulnerable, including young children and pregnant women, being targeted.”

The UN peacekeeping mission, known as UNMISS, said it was sheltering some 8,000 civilians in its base at Pibor after weeks of “intense” fighting. It added that thousands more people had taken refuge in the bush and adjacent swamps. The towns of Manyabol and Likuangole have been "almost totally destroyed".

Pibor, in the northeast of the country, is one of two new oil-rich “administrative areas” controversially created by South Sudanese President Salva Kiir as part of the compromise deal with the rebel opposition that cleared the way for the formation of a power-sharing government on 22 February. David Shearer, the head of UNMISS, said the "absence of political leadership in the area, has contributed to the recent outbreak of intercommunal violence."

Read TNH’s South Sudan reporting for more.

– Obi Anyadike

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