Latest Stories: South Sudan; Cattle Herders with AK47
Cattle Herders with AK47
Sudan’s 22-year long Sudan’s civil war between the North and South, which left two million people dead and 4 million people displaced, officially ended at a 2005 peace deal. Now the South seems to become a new country after the independence referendum in January. However, the tension is very high, not only between the North and the South, but among the South itself.
In the South, many cattle raids have broken out, killing few thousand people and making hundreds thousand people displaced, just since 2009. There are ethnic animosities among tribes and clans; Southern Sudan is composed of more than 200 ethnic groups. And the cattle are more than cattle or cows. Tribes in most part of Southern Sudan, especially countryside, regard those animals as a critical part of their life and as an icon of a rich status symbol. Due to the reasons, cattle raids often happen. Southern Sudanese politicians and military officials also say the North has secretly funded and supplied weapons to tribes in cattle camps to destabilize the South, although Khartoum denies.
There is another significant reason – the long civil war has left a huge number of weapons to tribal communities, as heavily armed youths suddenly returned to their home after the war. In fact, in the South, the number of ethnic fighting or the cattle raids has more escalated after the 2005 peace agreement.
To secure the South before the referendum, SPLA, the Sudan People's Liberation Army, had waged its intensive disarmament, especially after the summer of 2010. However it is said many tribes and clans in the cattle camps still hide weapons. Or some openly arm themselves for their protection as well as for cattle.
Cattle raids and killings take place in remote, nearly inaccessible areas where there is no government or security presence, and no education system. In such situations, unfortunately many cattle herders believe that they have to protect themselves by their own guns.