Submitted by ub on Sun, 01/22/2012 - 12:30

More than 120,000 people affected by the recent violence in South Sudan’s Jonglei state may need emergency assistance – double the number of those originally thought to need help – the United Nations humanitarian official in the country said today.

Fighting between Lou Nuer and Murle communities escalated sharply in late December, causing an estimated tens of thousands people to flee their homes in Pibor County and resulting in casualties, destruction of property and livelihoods.

Retaliatory attacks were then launched on communities in Akobo, Uror and Duk counties. The most recent attack took place on 16 January, when 80 people were reportedly killed and 300 houses burnt in Duk Padiet in Duk County, according to local authorities.

UN envoy in South Sudan urges an immediate end to the cycle of ethnic violence in the newly independent nation, and called on the Government to hold the perpetrators to account and to deploy more forces to key areas to avert further bloodshed.

Humanitarian assistance is being provided in violence-affected areas and assessments are continuing, according to a news release issued by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

A humanitarian response and coordination hub has been established in Pibor town and 15 aid groups are present on the ground, working to repair water points and provide food, household items, emergency education, nutrition, protection and medical assistance. Help is also being provided in Gumuruk, Likuangole, Boma and Walgak, and other villages will receive aid soon.

The recent spike in inter-communal violence has compounded an already difficult humanitarian situation in South Sudan, OCHA stated. Aid agencies were already supporting 30 simultaneous emergency operations before the crisis in Jonglei began.

Since mid-2011, tensions on the border with Sudan have also escalated, triggering fresh displacements. In May 2011, violence erupted in Abyei, displacing 110,000 people into Agok and South Sudan where they remain displaced.

In addition, ongoing conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in Sudan has caused approximately 80,000 people to flee into South Sudan since June 2011. Hundreds of new refugees continue to arrive every week.