UN peacekeepers deploy to stop communal killings in South Sudan

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan said on Tuesday, December 3 it had re-deployed 75 troops to halt a cycle of communal attacks and revenge killings that have left 79 people dead.

The Nepalese troops based in the town of Rumbek were flown by helicopter, after heavy rains rendered roads impassable, to Maper 100 km (60 miles) to the north to provide a “protective presence” in the area.

The deployment “follows reports from local authorities that as many as 79 people have been killed and a further 101 injured in a series of communal clashes and revenge attacks between the Gak and Manuer communities,” UNMISS said in a statement.

The mission noted that while political violence had largely subsided in South Sudan due to the signing of a peace deal in September 2018 “intercommunal clashes continue to result in the killing and injuring of civilians, cattle raiding and the looting of property.”

Cattle raiding, a generations-old phenomenon in South Sudan, has grown increasingly deadly as cowherds arm themselves with automatic rifles, leading to vicious cycles of revenge killings.

Many herder communities nurse long-standing grievances unrelated to the national tug of war for power and the breakdown of law and order has only complicated such local conflicts.

“This fighting must stop,” said United Nations special envoy David Shearer.

“We are urging the communities involved and their leaders to put an end to the violence and to come together in reconciliation and peace for the good of their people.”

South Sudan plunged into war in December 2013 after a falling out between President Salva Kiir and his rival Riek Machar. The latest peace deal has led to the longest ceasefire of the war, but plans to reunite the two men in a power-sharing government have been repeatedly delayed.

With reporting from AFP

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