Giles Duley

Galleries: Inter-Tribal Violence, South Sudan. 2009

When the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed in 2005, it brought to an end over twenty years of civil war. A bloody conflict between North and South Sudan that had cost the lives of over two million. It should have been a time of peace, with South Sudan granted semi-autonomy until a referendum on independence, due to be held in 2011. However 2009 saw a sharp increase in inter-tribal violence. With over 2000 killed, South Sudan superseded Dafur in the number of violent deaths.

There is widespread feeling that the North is encouraging this violence, as it's in its interest to see the region destabilised during the run-up to 2010's elections and the following referendum. While no direct link can be established, the dramatic increase of weapons in such a poor region points to outside influence. There are large oil reserves in the South and it's hard to see the Khartoum government relinquishing them.

The worst of this fighting has been in Jonglei state where the Lou Nuer and Murle have been engaged in bloody tit-for-tat raids. While cattle raids are common, this recent violence has been on a different scale.

The Murle village of Lekwongole, which was attacked in March, 2009. The attack by Nuer tribesman left 450 dead. Unlike traditional cattle raids, the attack on Lekwongole marked an escalation in inter-tribal violence, with a well-armed, organised militia deliberately targeting women and children.
  
The bones of Nuer attackers still lie in the village.
  
     
  
  
Murle warriors preparing for a generation fight. Each generation must, when the time is right, challenge the authority of the age group above. The recent fights have been particularly violent as a more aggressive generation bids for power. Using long sticks and clubs the men fight at night, in secret, often resulting in serious injury and occasionally death.
  
Murle women in Lekwongole. From an early age they know who they will marry and the colour of their beading donates the generation to which their husbands belong.
     
  
A Murle warrior, dancing in the build up to a generation fight. His age group are fighting for greater power within the tribe. This will have a major bearing on the conflict with the Nuer.
  
It is rare for different generations to dance at the same time, but on this occasion the election of a new chief permits it. It is common for these events to end in fighting between the groups.
  
To signify his status as a warrior, a Murle youth wears a headpiece made from the mane of a lion. The lion has to be killed by hand.
     
  
In South Sudan cattle are the cornerstone of society and are fiercely guarded against the frequent raids of other tribes.
  
A young Nuer man guards his family's cattle.
  
     
  
A Nuer fighter, shot through the calf. In order to relieve the pressure the MSF doctor had to remove the skin from the front of the leg. It was still possible that the leg would have to be amputated.
  
At the MSF clinic in Pieri, a boy fights for his life after being shot through the liver. Due to his loss of blood, the doctor was unable to stabilise him in order to get him to a surgery. The nearest being over two hours flight.
  
His arm had also been hit by a high velocity AK-47 round.
     
  
With no blood and unable to get him to surgery, the twelve year old's life slips away.
  
Members on the Nuer 'White Army'.
  
The 'White Army' or 'Young Boys' is an illegal militia comprised of teenagers. While originally designed to be a defensive organistaion they have also been involved in attacks, such as the one in Lekwongole.
     
  
A young fighter in the 'White Army'.