Inter-ethnic fighting has broken out in the Yambio region of Southern Sudan, leading to the looting and burning of the United Nations health agency's compound there and forcing the evacuation of more than 100 UN and non-governmental organization (NGO) staff, the UN mission in Africa's largest country reported today.
Fighting between the Dinka tribe and the Zande, who form the majority of the population of Yambio, capital of Western Equatoria state, started yesterday and was continuing today.
The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), which is helping to consolidate a peace agreement in Southern Sudan ending two decades of war between the Government and rebels, said the inter-tribal fighting had caused casualties, none of them so far from among the UN staff. It had no information on the number.
The Mission added that 57 staff of UN agencies and NGOs in Yambio had been relocated today and that due to rising tensions in Tanbura, north of Yambio, the UN is in the process of relocating 44 UN agencies and NGOs there.
Western Equatoria has over the recent years been the most stable area in Southern Sudan. There is no final determination of the exact circumstances of the clashes, but preliminary reports indicate that the fighting followed the return of the Governor of the State when initial scuffles at the airport developed into rioting, with Zandes beating Dinkas.