Fighting along the border is displacing tens of thousands of civilians.
Sacks of food are unloaded from a UN helicopter in Pibor / Reuters
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United Nations World Food Programme (UNWFP) deputy executive director Ramiro Lopes da Silva announced yesterday that his agency will assist eighty thousand people in South Sudan's Jonglei state, who are victims of escalating ethnic conflict between the Lou Nuer and the Murle. He also warned that the conflict in the states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan, in Sudan, could lead to the flight of half a million people to South Sudan if Khartoum continues to deny access to the area by humanitarian agencies.
The two crises are separate. Conflict between the Lou Nuer and the Murle predates the Sudanese civil war and the independence of South Sudan. Over the years, as now, it involves cattle theft, kidnapping, and revenge. There is evidence that neither group surrendered all of their weapons to the Sudanese People's Liberation Army when South Sudan became independent, as they were required to do. Though the fighting and resulting internally displaced population appears to be confined to South Sudan, the two peoples also live in adjacent countries, and there must be concern that it could spread.