The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) today expressed deep concern over reports of new clashes in strife-torn Jonglei state, as well as major mobilization of armed youth in the town of Pibor.
“The mission calls on the leaders of all Jonglei communities and their youth, as well as on national and state authorities, to exercise maximum restraint and urgently engage in reconciliation efforts,” UN Spokesperson Martin Nesirky told reporters in New York.
UNMISS is trying to verify the information and assess population movements, including through the use of aerial reconnaissance flights, the spokesperson said, adding that the Mission's mobility is hampered by inadequate air assets, which significantly limit its capability to detect violence in inaccessible rural areas.
“As a result, the Mission is not in an immediate position to confirm details about numbers or locations of the mobilized youth and associated clashes,” Mr. Nesirky said.
South Sudan, which marked its second independence anniversary earlier this week, has been plagued by sporadic ethnic violence as well as a border conflict with Sudan. In Jonglei, fighting between Government forces and armed groups has displaced thousands of civilians since January.
Mr. Nesirky said UNMISS is reinforcing its military presence in Gumuruk and Pibor, and has contingency plans in place in case of attacks that require civilian protection.
“UNMISS is in constant contact with the Government of South Sudan, the Sudan People's Liberation Army, and officials in Jonglei. It is calling on them to take urgent action to prevent an escalation of the violence,” Mr. Nesirky added.