Members of a South Sudan tribe that was previously targeted in a massive ethnic assault killed 47 people in another revenge attack, escalating a tribal conflict in the world’s newest nation, an official said.
Members of the Murle community attacked a community called Duk Padiet in Jonglei State on Monday evening, said Philip Thon Leek Deng, a lawmaker who spoke on Tuesday from South Sudan’s capital, Juba.
Some of the residents of Duk Padiet — who are from the Lou Nuer tribe — fought back, killing an unspecified number of attackers, “but the majority of the 47 killed were young children who could not run, old women, old men, disabled people,” said Deng, who is a Lou Nuer.
There was no immediate confirmation of his casualty tolls.
The attack was the latest in a series of raids carried out by the Murle against the neighboring Lou Nuer community in Jonglei. Similar attacks took place over the past week in neighboring Uror and Akobo counties.
With the attacks in Duk County, the death toll since the revenge attacks began on Jan. 8 has risen to more than 120.
In related news, the US warned on Tuesday that a humanitarian crisis in neighboring Sudan is worsening, but the Sudanese government insists the situation is “99 percent” normal.
South Kordofan and Blue Nile border South Sudan, and both states contain large groups that sided with the south during more than two decades of civil war, but remain part of the north. Rebels from those groups that still support South Sudan’s ruling party want to topple the Khartoum government.
Fighting between the Sudanese army and the rebels started in June in South Kordofan and spread to neighboring Blue Nile in September, forcing about 417,000 people to flee their homes, with the majority remaining in the country, but 80,000 seeking refuge in South Sudan and thousands more in Ethiopia, according to the UN.
US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice accused Sudan’s government of deliberately preventing UN agencies and aid groups from going to the conflict areas in the two states to help hundreds of thousands of civilians affected by the fighting.
“It is the United States government’s firm belief that, if the government of Sudan does not allow immediate and meaningful humanitarian access to the conflict zones in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile so life-saving humanitarian assistance can be provided to civilians in need, we will likely see famine conditions in parts of Sudan,” Rice wrote in a letter to Security Council members.
According to the US Agency for International Development, without immediate assistance the situation in the two states will reach Stage 4 of a humanitarian emergency in March, “which is one step short of full-scale famine,” Rice said.
“We reiterate the call on the government of Sudan to allow full, immediate, unconditional access to all populations in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile to avert what has the potential very soon to be a full-scale humanitarian crisis,” she said.
Sudanese Ambassador to the UN Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman countered that the government is cooperating with UN agencies to provide relief to all needy people in areas captured from the rebels by the Sudanese army, but he said the government does not care about humanitarian aid for the rebels.
“Ninety-nine percent of the surface of the two states is normal, I assure you,” he said.