By Roger Alfred Yoron Modi
Yesterday, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan issued a statement saying it is deeply concerned over recent reports of attack in Baidit, Jonglei State alleged to have been carried out by armed Murle elements resulting in civilian casualties and temporary displacements.
“According to preliminary reports, some 32 people from the Dinka Bor community were killed that include three women killed by gunshots and three children who reportedly drowned in the river while fleeing and at least 26 others were wounded, including women and children,” the statements says “The attackers also burned down at least five houses and looted properties of the civilians. Reportedly, people fled seeking shelter in nearby bush areas and some are currently unaccounted for.”
Indeed, the challenges to the crises in South Sudan also include inadequacies in the justice system and lack of independent press to timely provide independent, plural and balanced coverage.
Meanwhile, on their part UNMISS has urged “groups and individuals to take immediate action to avoid further escalations that will endanger vulnerable people” and called on “authorities to carry out timely investigations and that the perpetrators be held accountable.”
What can be done including by the United Nations Security Council?
These types of crises do occur every now and then in various parts of South Sudan.
On the incident cited here, a South Sudanese posted on social media asking if the the people of Jonglei State and Greater Pibor Administrative Area have State and National Governments? If the answer is No, he writes, “Then shouldn’t all families, communities and even counties apply the system of “when there is no government” and take charge over their matters of their security and that of their property?” Such a concern can also be seen from the aspect of incomplete formation of the lower levels of government in South Sudan per the R-ARCSS.
In its various briefings, including to the UN Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council, UNMISS continues to highlight what it describes as its “support to building the justice chain, including through the deployment of mobile courts, without which,” their “efforts to promote criminal accountability and contain extrajudicial killings would be difficult.”
“Our work, in particular, in trying to build what we call a “justice chain” – you know, one of the things we encounter when we engage in intercommunal conflict where people say, “what do we do if somebody does wrong to us or takes our cattle and there are no courts and no police, no prisons? We need you to assist,”” said UNMISS Head and Special Representative of the Secretary-General Mr Nicholas Haysom, according to “near verbatim transcript” of his last month’s press conference in Juba, urging that the UN Security Council “has to show a degree of understanding and support for the achievement of the benchmarks in the peace agreement (R-ARCSS) which include constitution-making, establishment of government structures and accountability structures.”
Those tasks of course also relate to the implementation of Chapter Two of the R-ARCSS on Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements and R-ARCSS as a whole. However, the road to achieving success cannot be limited simply to the parties to the Agreement, it is a huge task that has to involve civil society and other stakeholders, as well as justifiable improvements on aspects of the peace agreement that need adjustments.
Roger Alfred Yoron Modi, a South Sudanese journalist, is the author of the book Freedom of Expression and Media Laws in South Sudan. He is also the Producer and Host of The Weekly Review: Making Sense of Relevant Topics and News. For more, keep in touch with his website rogeryoronmodi.com