The estimate of the number of the people who died during the recent violence between the host community and Sudanese refugees near Doro camp in Northeast Maban County in South Sudan’s Eastern Nile State has increased, bringing the total number of dead to 32, according to several local officials and camp managers.
The fight which started in late December continued for three days of unrest in the area, prompting the state government to dispatch a high-level delegation to assess the security situation there.
Northeast Maban County Commissioner Mansur Mustafa told Radio Tamazuj on Monday that at least 17 members of the host community were confirmed killed and 13 others wounded during clashes.
“The time I spoke to you during the fighting, the number was 14 people killed. But now the number has increased to 17 people killed and 13 people wounded, and now they are in the hospital,” said Mansur.
Mustafa claimed that unconfirmed numbers of people from the host community are still missing. The local official pointed out that they recently received about 15 cows and three people including two women from the Blue Nile refugees.
The county commissioner noted that his government and SPLA forces stationed in the area handed over 180 Sudanese refugees who were detained by the host community to camp managers.
Meanwhile, Luka Sadallah Deng, Southeast Maban County Commissioner, accused the leadership of the Sudanese refugees of failing to summit names of seven people who should be members of the recently formed committee to implement some resolutions agreed upon by both sides and the government delegation.
When asked about findings of the delegation that was on the ground to investigate the incident, the official denied knowledge of the delegation’s work. “I cannot talk about the findings of the delegation that was sent to investigate the incident. But I want to tell you that before the delegation returned to the state capital Malakal, we, the two commissioners of Maban, we were asked to formed a committee that will implement the resolutions agreed upon by both sides,” he said.
“Some of the resolutions agreed upon were to free those who were detained by both sides after the fighting erupted, and also to reopen all roads linking refugee camps with other places to allow freedom of movement between the host community and the refugees. But the refugee side has failed to summit their members,” he added.
For his part, Tila Musa, coordinator of Doro refugee camp, confirmed to radio Tamazuj in an interview on Tuesday that at least 15 Sudanese refugees were killed and 16 others wounded during the clashes, while 58 people are still missing.
“Up to now, we don’t know the actual number of people who died, but we know on the first day of fighting, two people were killed and on the second day, two others were killed. About 16 people were confirmed wounded at Doro camp, but what we knew later, we received 11 bodies of refugees who were killed in Bunj town, so we buried them in the public graveyard inside Bunj town,” said Musa.
The camp coordinator also voiced concerns about whereabouts of 58 refugees who are still missing, saying they do not know whether they are alive or dead. He assumed that the missing refugees are being detained by the host community.
Musa revealed that they buried at least four refugees killed near Doro camp after the camp came under attack carried out by local youth and that they later received about 11 dead bodies from the host community, saying they buried them in the presence of the International Community of the Red Cross (ICRC).
When asked whether they received about 180 refugees who were initially detained by the host community during the clashes, Musa said: “Yes, what I know is that the number we have received at Doro was 142 on the first time. But later, some people were received, so that could be more than 180 people which I am not sure of the exact number, but I know about 142 people,” he said.
He claimed that they handed over four people and 15 cows to the host community through SPLA Division One, while the host community confirmed three people only.
The camp leadership admitted that they have not yet submitted the names of their people to be members of the committee. “I don’t think that there are some names sent on the refugee side to participant in the committee formed to implement the resolutions that include free movement and release of who are still under detention on both sides, he said.
Musa denied reports that many refugees returned back to Blue Nile due to the recent fighting, describing their movement as normal.
He denied knowledge of what caused the recent fighting between the two communities in the area. “I don’t know exactly what caused the fighting. But what I know is that there were some minor issues that happened here and there, but the authorities were unable to settle the disputes, but I don’t know exactly what happened,” he said.
Musa accused members of fire brigade and police officers of involvement in the clashes, while accusing members of the White Army and organized forces of attacking them.
“The SPLA did not participant in the fighting, they were neutral, and they were moving to refugees and going to the host community. It was the white army that involved itself in the fight, and I don’t want to talk about the issue,” he said.
The SPLA-North spokesperson Arnu Ngutulu Lodi confirmed that some Sudanese refugees were killed. He noted that about 15,000 refugees were forced to leave their houses and that they are now living in an area in the north of Doro camp, amid harsh humanitarian conditions.
Arnu disputed reports that the Sudanese refugees attacked the host community. “That is untrue. The refugees were attacked by the Maban militias that are against the South Sudanese government, so as a result of that, some refugees lost their lives and among them were children,” said Arnu.
Meanwhile, Alyona Synenko, spokesperson of the ICRC in South Sudan, said her organization was involved in the burial of the people who were killed in Maban. But the ICRC declined to mention the number of victims on both sides.
“We supported the authorities to make sure that the people killed are buried in a dignified manner with the importance of the remains that are properly identified and that they are buried in a proper manner, and we are providing technical support to authorities,” said Alyona.