Archbishop urges calm after 32 killed in tribal clashes in South Sudan

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The Archbishop of Jonglei Province of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan has urged a cessation of tribal warfare that left 32 dead last week in clashes in the Diocese of Athooch.  In a video released on 25 January 2022, the Most Rev. Moses Anur Ayom offered his condolences to the families of the dead and injured and prayed for peace.

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) reported armed youth from the Murle tribe raided two villages in Baidit, leaving 32 members of the Dinka Bor community dead. Among the dead were three women who were killed by gunfire and three children who drowned in the Nile when they attempted to flee the fighting. UNMISS reported 26 other people were wounded, five houses burnt to the ground and other dwellings and shops looted. Many of the inhabitants of the villages fled into the bush when the fighting began, and the total number of dead and injured has not been ascertained.

The UNMISS released a statement condemning the attacks and urging action by tribal leaders to avoid further escalation of violence. “The Mission further calls on authorities to carry out timely investigations and that the perpetrators be held accountable,” it said. 

“All efforts must be made to restore calm, refrain from engaging in further violence and to promote peace and reconciliation”, the statement said, adding: “Any surge in subnational violence will have a devastating effect on communities that have already been impacted by flooding, the COVID-19 pandemic and recurring conflict.” 

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has also responded to the attack. 

Hamida Lasseko, UNICEF Representative in South Sudan, said she was shocked and deeply saddened to learn children were among the victims. 

“UNICEF deplores such acts and urges that children and civilians are protected from all forms of violence,” she said in a statement issued on Monday. 

Ms. Lasseko added that reports of looting and burning of civilian properties, as well as disruption of humanitarian services, were “alarming”. 

“Children are paying the heaviest price of the continued Sub-National violence in South Sudan,” she said. 

UNICEF has urged all groups and individuals to respect that all children and their families are kept out of harm’s way and able to survive and thrive.”