Sharp rise of armed violence in South Sudan

Affected town in Pibor. Affected town in Pibor. Photo by iStock on Pexels.

16 May 2021 

Local armed groups are terrorizing villages across the Greater Pibor Administrative Area in South Sudan.

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the U.N Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG), Nicholas Haysom, are deeply worried about the violent spike of destruction in Pibor. According to Haysom, a large number of community based armed militias are currently  abducting, injuring, and terrorizing as many villages within the area as possible. The town of Pibor itself, with a population of only 1,000, has also seen the arrival of armed and motorized militant groups, operating openly throughout the town’s streets. 

These armed groups have been active throughout Pibor before, with UNMISS reporting on attacks by these same collectives dating back to January 2020 . In their path, they destroyed houses, burned down businesses, murdered civilians, and raped women. They continued these actions up until the early spring months before eventually leaving these communities in peace for more than a year. As a response, UNMISS quickly sent humanitarian resources and personnel to aid the affected communities. 

However, due to a lack of resources and willpower from the South Sudanese government, the amount of state-led initiatives within Pibor has remained stubbornly low over the past 12 months, making it incredibly reliant on the work of humanitarian agencies. This sudden spike in violence has made it far more difficult for UNMISS to access the most vulnerable people - many of whom have been forced to flee - leading to a suspension of humanitarian efforts in places such as Vereth and Gumuruk.

To counteract these issues UNMISS and the SRSG are working to expand temporary humanitarian bases in safer regions while intensifying patrols in the areas most affected by violence. Furthermore, they are working hand in hand with political and social leaders in the hopes of promoting a successful campaign of reconciliation via peace conferences. The two biggest tasks at hand are to provide food and water to the ever-growing displaced population alongside securing the release of abducted women and children.


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Author:Sergio Gomez; Editor: Xavier Atkins

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