More than 1,000 people have been killed in South Sudan in the past six months and 400 abducted in communal conflicts, according to the United Nations.
The country is struggling to emerge from years of ruinous civil war, which broke out two years after gaining independence in 2011 and formally ended with the creation of a power-sharing government in February.
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The conflict has killed an estimated 400,000 people, forced millions from their homes and wrecked infrastructure in the oil-producing country.
Violence has soared in recent months between rival communities, often over cattle raiding which has led to cycles of brutal revenge killings.
“More than 1,000 people died in Warrap [state] in the past six months,” UN special envoy David Shearer said on Tuesday. “There are a lot of people who want to go on and carry out revenge attacks for those that have died.”
Shearer warned that once the dry season arrives in January, the potential for further conflict in the central state was high.
Meanwhile, in eastern Jonglei state, “hundreds” died in fighting this year “and more than 400 people were abducted”.
“The potential for conflict in Jonglei as a result … is very, very high,” said Shearer.
He called for dialogue between communities, and said the UN’s mission in the country would deploy peacekeepers to several temporary bases in some of the hotspots for violence.
Observers have warned that the communal violence risked derailing a peace agreement to end the war. Key tenets of the deal, such as the unification of warring forces under one army, have not progressed.
“By improving roads, we improve economic development as we move forward with peace." – SRSG David Shearer, at today's press conference where he announced that #UNMISS peacekeepers will rehabilitate 3,200 kms of roads in #SouthSudan 🇸🇸. Full story: https://t.co/ZYOCHVvBAs#A4P pic.twitter.com/PTwpKVNh2c
— UNMISS (@unmissmedia) November 17, 2020
Separately, Shearer said the UN’s peacekeeping mission would start work to rehabilitate 3,200km (1,988 miles) of roads in the country during the dry season.
“It provides access to services, increases trade between areas which brings down the cost of goods in the market, creates jobs and contributes to economic growth,” Shearer said.
“Through roads, people from different communities communicate with each other, building trust and deterring conflict.”