Deng Dau denies South Sudan spectating inter-state violence

Deng Dau denies South Sudan spectating inter-state violence
The deputy minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation. [Sheila Ponnie, The City Review]

The deputy minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation, Deng Dau Deng, has refuted accusations that the national government has kept mum while deadly intercommunal conflicts are swathing across the states and affecting the most vulnerable populations.

Deng assured the international community and the Inter-governmental Authority (IGAD) at a meeting convened in Juba on Friday over the latest wave of violence that has swept through the Greater Pibor Administrative Area that the revitalised government of national unity does not condone the ongoing violence in the country and will remain active in dealing with peace breakers.

“Since September and October this year, the government has been engaged in finding amicable solutions to the conflicts in Upper Nile and Jonglei states, through the envisioned dispatch of the highest political leaders to those states to dialogue on the root causes of the conflict and secure peace and stability,” he said.

Deng stated that the government is devoted to restoring peace not only within the country’s borders but also beyond them. He mentioned the contribution of the battalion of 720 soldiers to the peace mission in eastern DR Congo as a part of the government’s efforts to also participate in bringing peace to the region.

According to Deng, the “conflicts in the Upper Nile, Jonglei States, and Greater Pibor Administrative are internal disputes between the SPLM-IO Splinter Kitgwang faction of Gen Simon Gatwech and the Agwalek faction of Gen Johnson Olony and spiritual leaders.” Although Deng did not highlight the measures by the government to deal with these clashes, President Salva Kiir issued a statement last month saying military personnel had been sent to parts of Jonglei and Upper to restore peace.

Greater Pibor under distress

Following an attack by an armed Jonglei State youth group, violence erupted last week in Gumuruk’s Greater Pibor Administrative Area and neighbouring Lekuangole.

Last week, authorities in Pibor Administrative Area reported that inter-communal violence in Gumuruk County had displaced over 10,000 civilians to the administrative capital and neighboring areas.

According to officials, the fighting in Gumuruk and Lekuangole counties killed more than 50 people and injured dozens more.

Deng explained that when it comes to Jonglei State and the Greater Pibor Administrative Area, “the dry season invariably brings its own set of challenges, which has contributed to inter-communal feuds because of cattle raiding and child abductions.”

He stated that the Pibor conflicts have also resulted into the loss of lives and massive displacement of population from their original areas

“In the efforts to restore security and stability, the government has directed the security apparatus to provide adequate security to all citizens in upper Nile, Jonglei state, the Greater Pibor Administrative Area, and other parts of the country,” he noted.

On Thursday, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, Sara Beysolow Nyanti, said in a statement that the ongoing conflict, including violence at the sub-national level, has impacted thousands of people in 2022, leading to multiple displacements, loss of lives and livelihoods.

She explained that the South Sudanese continue to bear the “cumulative and compounding effects of years of social and political instability, food insecurity, and climate-related shocks like flooding.” In 2022, thousands of people were affected by the ongoing conflict, which included sub-national violence.

 “This has also exacerbated people’s chronic vulnerabilities and mounting needs for life-saving humanitarian assistance and protection.”

“The violence must stop. The whole humanitarian community calls upon all armed elements to immediately cease hostilities, respect international humanitarian law and protect civilians and humanitarian workers,” said Nyanti.

Nyanti added that, “impunity is a perpetuating factor and root cause for conflict and insecurity. “There must be accountability.”

The deputy minister said the people of South Sudan need peace and the government is responsible for protecting them.

“The leadership of the presidency is working as one, and there is a continuous meeting of the council of ministers, and there are continuous consultations on the implementation of the peace agreement.”

According to the United Nations, a projected 9.4 million people will need humanitarian assistance and protection next year. An estimated 2.8 million people are expected to face physical violence, including rape and other forms of gender-based violence, and they will need protection.