The Governor of Tonj has issued an order directing all cattle keepers in the neighboring Wau State to return to home to Tonj to avoid more cattle-related conflicts.
This comes after a series of attacks in which dozens of farmers, mostly women, and children, were killed in Kwajina County.
According to officials, the incidents occurred when a group of armed pastoralists attacked some villages there – a conflict the leaders attributed to destruction of farms by the cattle from Tonj.
“The government has ordered all cattle camp keepers to be returned back to Tonj land since there is conflict always and cattle raiding is always reported; people are killed… even a 13-year-old boy was killed on the 15th [March] which is against human rights, said William Wol, Tonj state Minister of Information.
Last week, the conflict intensified leaving at least 15 more people killed and 20 others injured in the same area.
Community leaders from the conflict-affected Kwajina County of Wau State have accused Tonj state of violating the Marial Bai Agreement.
Signed in December 2016, the Marial Bai Agreement obligates the governments of Wau, Gogrial and Tonj to regulate the relationship between pastoralists and farmers.
Every dry season, cattle keepers from Gogrial and Tonj migrate to Wau State for green pasture and water.
The agreement stipulates that: “No pastoralist will be allowed to carry a gun during migration in dry season to Wau.”
It also states that: “Nobody will be allowed to bring his cattle to Wau without a letter of permission from their chiefs and whoever violates this will be denied entry to Wau State.”
However, the community leaders of Kawjina, including MPs, village elders, and teachers say Tonj has failed to honor the agreement by allowing cattlemen to enter Wau with weapons.
Tonj Minister of Information, Mr. Wol said this is why the order issued by Governor Mathieu Mathiang is aimed at avoiding further bloodshed. He added that any cattle keeper who does not comply with the directives will be forcefully returned.
“All cattle camp keepers should come back, even by force or forcefully,” he said.
Tonj governor directed the State Minister of Local government to return all the Tonj cattle keepers back home by “any means necessary” to avoid any escalation of the conflict.
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