Ruto engages Kiir on peace restoration in Upper Nile State

Ruto engages Kiir on peace restoration in Upper Nile State
President of Kenya, William Ruto signing a document at South Sudan’s State House as President Salva Kiir looks on.

Kenya’s president, William Ruto, has urged for immediate action to restore peace in the restive northern parts of the country. According to the Daily Mail, a UK news outlet, Ruto reached out to President Salva Kiir over the weekend to discuss ways to de-escalate the violence in Upper Nile State.

“As a neighbour and grantor of the South Sudan Peace process, I, on behalf of Kenya, bring these concerning developments to the attention of the wider international community and call for a focus and immediate intervention geared towards de-escalation, peaceful resolution and coexistence among the parties involved,” he said, as quoted by the Daily Mail.

“The increasing insecurity, violence, displacement and unfolding humanitarian crisis is detrimental to the peace and stability of South Sudan and the East Africa region as a whole,” he further noted.

Nairobi also airlifted an assortment of foodstuffs to the war-torn part of the country to support the victims of violence currently sheltering in the IDP camps in Malakal town.

Upper Nile State descended into violence in August 2022, when rival Kitgwang factions—troops loyal to Gen Simon Gatwech and those loyal to his former deputy Gen Johnson Olony—began a firefight in the region.The clash brought fear, deaths, and massive displacement of people, with over 20,000 people seeking refuge in Malakal, the UN said.

By last month, the UNHCR and other humanitarian organisations had tried to secure the IDPs, but they had also raised concerns over the growing number of refugees at the camp, which could stretch the resources available. Tension also grew at the camp with fears that the IDPs could either be attacked or the tribal conflict could find itself in the camp due to the full-blown intercommunal conflict.

A few weeks ago, President Kiir came out in public to explain how the government was forced to fly a traditional king of the Chollo Kingdom, saying some militia fighters wanted to kill him and “disappear with his head.” The head of state also made an assurance that a troop of the South Sudan Defence Forces (SSPDF) had been sent to the state to restore peace.