UNMISS deploy forces in conflict prone Kapoeta for a four-day operation

UNMISS deploy forces in conflict prone Kapoeta for a four-day operation
UN peacekeeping soldiers serving under UNMISS. [Photo: Courtesy]

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has deployed peacekeepers in Kapoeta North County, Eastern Equatoria State to avoid a circle of violence.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMISS, Nicholas Haysom, said he was deeply concerned about the deadly cattle raids by alleged armed youth in the area around Kapoeta North in Eastern Equatoria State.

The area recently experienced inter-communal clashes that left close to 280 people dead and about 15,000 cattle reportedly raided.

“The mission rapidly deployed UN peacekeepers into the area to conduct a four-day long-duration patrol as a way of stemming the tide of violence and to build confidence among community members,” Haysom said.

He said they are collaborating with local authorities and affected communities to assess the situation and prevent retaliatory attacks.

“UNMISS is assisting authorities in travelling to the area to conduct community discussions and de-escalate tensions.”

“The Mission is also working closely with humanitarian agencies and the local authorities, to facilitate and support the evacuation of critically wounded civilians to the nearest hospital in the state capital of Torit,” it added.

Haysom appealed to the national and state governments, and local community leaders to take urgent steps to prevent the violence from getting worse.

He called on the leaders to resolve the disputes through dialogue and hold accountable those responsible for the violence.

On Wednesday, July 6, more than 60 people were killed and dozens more were injured in Kapoeta North County, Eastern Equatoria State, during a cattle raiding incident.

According to Kapoeta North Commissioner, Emmanuel Epone Lolimo, armed youth from neighbouring Pibor, Budi, and Lafon staged a simultaneous attack on the area.

 Lolimo told The City Review that the suspected armed youth was believed to have crossed from a neighbouring state, and they raided about 15,000 cattle from the area.

The death toll later rose to 68 people dead after 58 others succumbed to injuries.

However, after one week of continued fighting, the death toll rose to 235 as of July 11 with the deputy chief of the Pibor area blaming his youth for taking part in the attack.

Emmanuel Epone Lolimo, Kapoeta North County Commissioner, blamed armed youth for the raids.

He said they had not fought in 16 years and that was the latest fight in the area.

“As a result of this incident, the death toll has risen to 235, which is not good. This large number is not being celebrated. But we blame them for attacking us.”

The commissioner pleaded with his colleagues to return the cattle and hold the perpetrators accountable.