[JURIST] The UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) [official website] on Monday urged South Sudan [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] to adopt a plan to prevent further inter-communal violence [press release] in Jonglei State. The report [text, PDF] was completed based on information gathered through 20 field missions by UNMISS with the support of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website]. The report revealed that there were 612 fatalities during the armed conflict between Lou Nuer and Murle ethnic groups between December 23 and January 4. Investigators found that the attacks targeted entire communities, including women and children. UNMISS called on the newly created government to ensure that its citizens will be free from conflicts based on ethnicity:
While the causes of inter-communal violence in Jonglei State are complex, ranging from arms proliferation and insecurity to marginalisation and lack of development, it is imperative that the newly-independent State demonstrates its commitment to preventing further intercommunal attacks and protecting civilians from violence and abuse, regardless of their ethnic origin. Its success in creating a new state and national identity will greatly depend on its ability to overcome ethnically-driven conflict, and to safeguard the human rights of all its people and communities, including access to food, education and healthcare.
UNMISS provided nine recommendations for the country to avoid similar violence and conflicts in the future. Among others, the country should develop a “comprehensive, multi-sectorial plan with short, medium and long-term actions to respond to the main causes of the violence in Jonglei State” while keep supporting the peace process that has already launched.
In February Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] had called on [JURIST report] South Sudan to investigate the ethnic conflict sparked by the attacks made on Murle villages and to prosecute those responsible for the violence. In December around 6,000 to 8,000 armed Lou Nuer youths calling themselves “White Army” invaded the Murle villages for 12 days, robbing and burning houses and killing thousands of people. In response, the Murles groups initiated retaliatory attacks on Lou Nuer and Bor Dinka areas which lasted until February 4. South Sudan is not only facing tension within its boundaries. In April the Sudanese government declared a state of emergency [JURIST report] on the South Sudan border after the arrest of four people whom the Sudanese claim were arrested for aggression against the north in the contested Heglig oil fields. During the same month, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] called on [JURIST report] both Sudan [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] and South Sudan to stop the violence that has caused fatalities on both sides. South Sudan was recognized as an independent state [JURIST report] in July 2011, making it the world’s 193rd nation.