South Sudan became independent last July under a 2005 peace deal to end decades of civil war. But the new nation is struggling to build state institutions and stop rebel and tribal bloodshed that has killed thousands.
Yesterday, about 6,000 armed members of the Lou Nuer tribe attacked the remote town of Pibor near the north Sudan border, after days of clashes with the rival Murle tribe, UN sources said. Cattle raids are thought to have sparked the latest violence.
Lise Grande, UN humanitarian co-ordinator for South Sudan, said tens of thousands of civilians had fled Pibor and nearby towns to escape the violence.
She said: “We are worried about their conditions. They are without water, shelter and food. They are hiding in the bush. I think it is between 20,000 and 50,000. This is an estimate.”
South Sudan’s armed forces are sending reinforcements to Pibor, army spokesman Philip Arguer said.
He added: “They attacked the town this morning. Civilians were evacuated from Pibor three days ago.”