SUDAN: Warrap, Lakes states grappling with ethnic clashes
JUBA, 27 January 2009 (IRIN) - Clashes in Southern Sudan's Warrap state have left 41 people dead and displaced hundreds of others from their homes in the past two months, local officials said.
Photo: Jane Namurye/IRIN
|Cattle rustling is one of the causes of sporadic clashes in Southern Sudan's Warrap State (file photo)
"The fighting has not stopped," Wol Deng Atak, a deputy chairman of Warrap State parliamentary caucus, told IRIN in Juba on 27 January. "There is still sporadic fighting all over the state."
A total of 24 people died in the past week alone, while 17 lost their lives in December. The latest fighting, he added, pitted the Dinka Lou community against the Apuuk. Other clashes occurred at the border between Warrap and Lakes State.
Atak cited cattle rustling as a key factor in the clashes. In December, for example, a cattle raid in Aliek left dozens wounded. There were also sporadic raids in Gogrial East.
The Warrap state parliamentary caucus is due to discuss the situation in an emergency meeting on 29 January, Atak said, adding that lawmakers from the area feared a possible escalation.
In a report to Parliament, the lawmakers who investigated conflicts in the state said hundreds had been displaced from the area in the past four months. In turn, Parliament has summoned the governor of the area to explain the conflicts, Atak added.
Aid workers confirmed the ongoing violence. An inter-agency assessment in Wulu County conducted on 25 January, after clashes between the Jur community and the Dinka, identified 325 displaced individuals scattered in the bush.
Wulu is south of Rumbek, capital of Lakes State. Further assessments, the UN said, were needed in three locations in the area.
The UN World Food Programme (WFP), Oxfam Great Britain and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) were due to deliver food and non-food aid to those affected on 27 January, according to the UN Resident Coordinator in Southern Sudan.
The latest clashes come four months after area chiefs discussed strategies to stop ethnic conflicts in Warrap. More than 100 chiefs met in September and formed a council to resolve inter-clan conflicts.
"There is something about Warrap [that] people do not understand," Atak said. "The fighting has been going on too long, it has become a part of life."
Meanwhile, clashes between the Agaar and Jur-bel communities of Lakes State have displaced hundreds of people, according to UN Radio Miraya.
Chan Majok, Western Bahr el Ghazal State Director for the Southern Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission, told Miraya 170 people arrived in Wau Town on 22 January and were staying at Khor-mudir Basic School. Most were women and children.
The two Southern Sudanese states have a history of ethnic clashes. In May 2008, fighting erupted between the Aguok and Kuach Dinka ethnic groups and the Abuok in Warrap.
In April 2007, 95 people were killed and 45 wounded during clashes between the Luach-jiang of Warrap state and the Pakam of Lakes State. Agad Chol Mabuog, Lakes State information minister, blamed cattle raiders.