UN urges end to interethnic clashes in Southern Sudan

Clashes on 8 May between the rival Lou Nuer and Jikany ethnic groups in the village of Torkech reportedly wounded 57 people, the majority of them children with some in critical condition, and forced at least 1,550 from their homes.“The UN is seriously concerned about the increasing violence in the area and the continuing loss of innocent lives of women, men and children,” stressed UN Deputy Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Southern Sudan Lise Grande.Ms. Grande called on “community leaders, and all relevant authorities to intervene and resolve the conflict through peaceful means and reconciliation.” The UN has sent an assessment mission to the area, and the South Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (SSRRC) is mobilizing food assistance to be distributed to the displaced people.Security in Nasir town, where many of the displaced have taken up camp, is calm but there is fear of retaliatory attacks in the neighbouring Ulang County, part of which is composed of the same ethnic groups fighting in Torkech.In a related development, the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) has dispatched some 120 civilian, military and police personnel to Jonglei State, where thousands are taking shelter after fleeing recent tribal confrontations.The move is aimed at supporting the Government of Southern Sudan in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), and in providing humanitarian assistance and protection to civilians in the state.Last week, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that up to 1,000 people have been killed and over 100,000 uprooted from their homes since January in seven states in Southern Sudan due to the activities of the Ugandan rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and inter-ethnic clashes.UNMIS personnel will assist the local communities in restoring dialogue by supporting peace and reconciliation conferences between communities in the area to prevent a further deterioration in relations and address the root causes of the conflicts, as well as to ensure a quick delivery of humanitarian aid to the affected populations. Military and police units from UNMIS will also provide technical and logistical assistance on security issues to the state government. 13 May 2009The recent surge in deadly ethnic violence in Southern Sudan, killing at least 66 people, is cause for serious concern, a United Nations official in the region warned today, calling for an immediate and peaceful resolution to the clashes.