May 12, 2016
Immediate Press Release
URGENT – Ethiopian troops into South Sudan – East Africa
Gambella, Ethiopia (May 12, 2016) Ethiopian troops entered South Sudan on May 2, 2016. We cannot say for sure it is an invasion, but the military buildup is large enough to characterize it as the invasion. An eyewitness estimated over thirty (30) thousand Ethiopian soldiers crossed borders to South Sudan. They are well equipped with Tanks, heavy weaponry, Armored Personnel Carriers, helicopters, fuel tankers, and food supplies. The troops entered through three main areas – Pochalla, Raad, and Akobo – on the Ethiopian-South Sudanese borders. Currently they are operating in three locations in Pochalla area, Pochalla town, Omila and Otalo villages and about 30 Tanks are stationed in Pochalla.
Today, May 12, 2016 the information coming out Pochalla, South Sudan is worrying some of intense situation which might escalate at any time because the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) are misbehaving, have no respect for the sovereignty of South Sudan by becoming patrol officers while the South Sudanese Pochalla police and South Sudanese National Army known as SPLA are there. The SPLA lead commander is very uncomfortable with the behaviors of ENDF. There haven’t been tensions or clashes between the two countries troops at the entrances but the situation is very alarming and needs immediate attention.
ENDF entered to South Sudan to recover abducted children of Nuer. Nuer have settled in the Gambella region mostly during SPLA armed struggle then they turned citizens. In April 2016, Murle gunmen conducted reprisal attack on Nuer because in February 2016, Nuer went and attacked Murle in their own territory taking an estimate of 4 (thousands) cattle unfortunately it was not published on any news outlets. It’s usual to have news like that goes unreported in that isolated region whereas Nuer have so much propaganda resources where they spread unsubstantiated news daily. For Murle to recover their livestock, they trailed the stolen cattle to the Gambella region side of the border to Nuer villages where they carried out raid and took back about 2000 cattle and kidnapped about 100 children 5 of which were Murle kids that were abducted by Nuer prior. The best solution to recover the kidnapped children is not by military power instead through peaceful negation with the Murle.
In the previous years, Nuer had carried out series of genocidal attacks against the Murle people in 2009, 2010, and 2013 in Pibor area and again in 2016. Nuer are the most problematic tribe that create major security threats to South Sudan and Ethiopia that might soon escalate to regional conflict if both governments do not act right. Each year Nuer raid Dinka in places Duk, county of Jongolei, Anyuak, and Murle areas. Nuer refugees in the Gambella region of Ethiopia carry out attacks on the Anyuak frequently and the government of Ethiopia sits around and watch without disarming them. Even Nuer who claimed to be Ethiopian citizens have been killings the Anyuak who are the indigenous of the Gambella region in order to take over the land. From October 2015 to March 2016 Nuer attacked Anyuak villages in Itang County (Woreda) weekly and Gambella town in January 2016 where they killed 9 Anyuak and Habesha (highlander) and injuring scores in the prison known as Gambella Regional State Correctional Facility. Again, in April 2016 Nuer refugees killed Ethiopians in the refugee camps. They mutilated bodies, even inserted foreign objects into female private parts and due to this barbaric killing, Ethiopian citizens have finally fed up with Nuer violence culture and demanded that all Nuer be repatriated to South Sudan. To this point, situation between Ethiopian mainstream and Nuer remained very tense.
We call on the South Sudanese government to pressure the ENDF to withdraw immediately and allow the Murle leadership to find the children. Ethiopian government must call on Nuer to cease violent behavior wherever they are.