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SSPDF Spokesperson, Maj Gen Lul Ruai Koang

South Sudan restores calm in Upper Nile in wake of civilian displacements

South Sudan’s army on Tuesday said it has restored calm to the northern Upper Nile state following the recent displacement of thousands of civilians due to intermittent communal violence.

 This was revealed by Lul Ruai Koang, the spokesperson of the South Sudan People’s Defense Force (SSPDF) who said they issued ultimatum to the invading white army militia to withdraw from Upper Nile state.

“We made it crystal clear to the white army that you must leave within the shortest time, failure to withdraw you will be engaged militarily,” Koang told journalists during the security-media relation workshop in Juba, the capital of South Sudan.

 “I am glad to announce to you that we have received information that the white army is withdrawing back to their original place of Jonglei state,”  he added.

The white army militia is mostly made up of Nuer ethnic community from neighboring Jonglei state.

Upper Nile state has experienced violence since August when fighting first erupted between Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in opposition (SPLA-IO) faction led by Simon Gatwech Dual and Agwelek militia under Johnson Olony.

However, the renewed fighting in mid-November between the white army militia and the indeginous Shiluk community in Fashoda County of Upper Nile state displaced about 40,000 civilians mostly children and women.

“We could not intervene because the fighting was taking place in areas under the control of two rival factions of Sudan People’s Liberation Army- in Opposition,” said Koang.

Gatwech’s SPLA-IO faction split in August 2021 from the SPLM/A-IO led by First Vice President Riek Machar. Olony was initially Gatwech’s deputy in the splinter faction but the two soon fell out leading to fighting.

President Salva Kiir last week directed Santino Deng Wol, the SSPDF chief of defense forces of t to deploy soldiers to end the conflict that has created humanitarian crisis.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recently said many families continue to cross the border to Sudan in search of safety, while others flee south towards Malakal, the capital of Upper Nile state where more than 2600 people have sought protection in the protection of civilians’ site (POC).

“The Malakal POC is over capacity, services are stretched, and there are growing concerns that tensions may escalate, given the poor living conditions. Access to the children in need is challenging and UNICEF is working with partners to ensure safe passage for personnel and supplies to reach to those displaced and those who remain in the conflict zones,” it said.

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