SOUTH SUDAN / LEER CLASHES

Preview Language:   Original
23-May-2022 00:05:54
A Senior Civil Affairs Officer from the United Nations in Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) called for an urgent healing and reconciliation process in the southern part of South Sudan’s Unity State, where gruesome attacks on communities in the area have resulted in deaths, beheadings, sexual violence, and abductions. UNMISS

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STORY: SOUTH SUDAN / LEER CLASHES
TRT: 05:54
SOURCE: UNMISS
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGES: NUER/ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 28 APRIL 2022, VARIOUS LOCATIONS, UNITY STATE, SOUTH SUDAN

SHOTLIST:
1. Various shots, burnt tukuls, United Nations vehicles on patrol, settlement
2. SOUNDBITE (Nuer) Nyariey Waithie Kutiek, displaced person:
“Many other people were killed in the village, and all our property was looted. We ran to this place for protection and to see if we could get something to eat.”
3. Various shots, vandalized hospital
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Paul Ebikwo, Team Leader of Civil Affairs in Unity State, UNMISS:
“The Mission has always called for accountability of perpetrators, and we believe that this is something that should not be left to go like that. You will recall that this is about the second time that southern Unity is witnessing this kind of problem. Between 2016 and 2018, there were serious issues also in southern Unity, which forced the Mission to also focus on that area and deploy several programmes and activities to help people heal and reconcile. Those activities were ongoing and were beginning to achieve some degree of success before all of this transpired again and is taking everybody back again to square one.”
5. Various shots, strewn food supplies from warehouse
6. SOUNDBITE (Nuer) John Bol Magak, displaced person:
“Most of the population that was living in this village were civilians. They don’t have any security agents who can provide people with early warnings of what may happen. The attackers came abruptly and attacked the village; they looted and destroyed the clinic, as you can see. Many people were killed, and women and children were raped. Most of the people have fled and are hiding in the bushes.
7. Various shots, displaced people
8. SOUNDBITE (Nuer) James Kuok Gai, Administrator for Thornyor Payam (administrative division):
“To be frank, we are wondering whether the revitalized peace agreement is, in fact, being implemented or not because now our lives are threatened as we do not have peace.”
9. Various shots, Muom Trading center, Adok Port
10. SOUNDBITE (Nuer) James Bichok Gatluak, Administrator for Apok Payam (administrative division):
“As you can see, people are slowly returning to the port after the massive destruction, but they lack many things: food supplies, medicines, and non-food items for shelter. Any response from the humanitarians will be much appreciated and will motivate more civilians to return.
11. Various shots, cattle

STORYLINE:
A Senior Civil Affairs Officer from the United Nations in Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has called for an urgent healing and reconciliation process in the southern part of South Sudan’s Unity State, where gruesome attacks on communities in the area have resulted in deaths, beheadings, sexual violence, and abductions.

The official also asked for perpetrators to be held accountable following a recent spate of attacks in the area.
An eerie silence has engulfed thousands of homes, burnt down in different locations across the southern part of South Sudan’s Unity State, where hundreds of thousands of residents have fled attacks in which up to 155 people are believed to have been killed.
Human rights teams from UNMISS patrolling the area documented that those killed in the attacks, which occurred between February and April 2022, included 23 children.
They also reported 138 incidents of sexual violence and the abduction of 26 women and children.
Nyariey Waithie says her home was burnt to the ground, and her immediate family members were killed in cold blood.

SOUNDBITE (Nuer) Nyariey Waithie Kutiek, displaced person:
“Many other people were killed in the village, and all our property was looted. We ran to this place for protection and to see if we could get something to eat.”

Besides witnessing numerous burnt-down homes, a recent day-long assessment tour revealed abandoned hospitals, schools, and churches lying in ruins in the affected counties of Leer, Mayendit, and Koch. It was one of a series of patrols undertaken by UNMISS forces to monitor the volatile area and make recommendations.

Paul Ebikwo, UNMISS Team Leader of Civil Affairs in Unity State, said: “The Mission has always called for accountability of perpetrators, and we believe that this is something that should not be left to go like that. You will recall that this is about the second time that southern Unity is witnessing this kind of problem. Between 2016 and 2018, there were serious issues also in southern Unity, which forced the Mission to also focus on that area and deploy several programmes and activities to help people heal and reconcile. Those activities were ongoing and were beginning to achieve some degree of success before all of this transpired again and is taking everybody back again to square one.”

A humanitarian warehouse with food supplies was looted, and aid workers who could have mitigated some of the area's widespread hunger and human suffering were forced to leave, unable to perform their critical work. In April, a humanitarian worker was killed in Leer while trying to flee an attack on his community.

SOUNDBITE (Nuer) John Bol Magak, displaced person:
“Most of the population that was living in this village were civilians. They don’t have any security agents who can provide people with early warnings of what may happen. The attackers came abruptly and attacked the village; they looted and destroyed the clinic, as you can see. Many people were killed, and women and children were raped. Most of the people have fled and are hiding in the bushes.

So far, it’s estimated that about 40,000 people who fled their homes following the gruesome attacks are in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

SOUNDBITE (Nuer) James Kuok Gai, Administrator for Thornyor Payam (administrative division):
“To be frank, we are wondering whether the revitalized peace agreement is, in fact, being implemented or not, because now our lives are threatened as we do not have peace.”

Some of the displaced are now living at Muom training center, located a half-hour drive from Leer town.

Soldiers loyal to the government and the main opposition group have spent the last few years training together to form part of a unified national army. Soldiers from both armed groups were allegedly involved in the recent violence, each accusing the other of what happened.
Recent developments in Adok, a port town and Unity State’s second-largest economic hub, which was attacked in mid-April, offer hope. The lifeline for humanitarian and other supplies delivery has experienced relative calm since then and is operating minimally, with much-needed commodities trickling in by boat.

SOUNDBITE (Nuer) James Bichok Gatluak, Administrator for Apok Payam (administrative division):
“As you can see, people are slowly returning to the port after the massive destruction, but they lack many things: food supplies, medicines, and non-food items for the shelter. Any response from the humanitarians will be much appreciated and will motivate more civilians to return.

As tensions remain, and with a cattle raid as recently as 16 May reportedly killing eighteen people, increasing needs for protection and humanitarian assistance are placing thousands of people at further risk.
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