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Army resumes disarmament of Tonj ‘gelweng’

Author: Obaj Okuj | Published: Thursday, November 19, 2020

UNMISS has set up a temporary operating base in Tonj, Warrap State, following recent clashes. The peacekeeping team travelled 11 hours from Kuajok through heavily flooded territory to get to Tonj. © UNMISS

The army has reported resumption of the disarmament exercise in Tonj, Warrap State, nearly three months after halting it.

In July 2020, the SSPDF launched the process of removing guns from the hands of civilians in Tonj North County.

It also targeted armed civilians in Lakes, Terekeka, Warrap and Jonglei areas.

But the process was suspended after armed youth clashed with the disarmament unit in Luanyjang area.

The intense fighting resulted in the death of over 120 soldiers and civilians.

Others were killed in Luanyjang County while some died when armed youth attacked military outposts in Romic during the night.

The SSPDF said the fighting was allegedly triggered by an argument over a red scarf between some soldiers and an armed youth.

On 18 August, the SSPDF decided to suspend the disarmament exercise.

The disarmament forces were also withdrawn to Ngab Agok to reduce tension in the area.

In a statement to Eye Radio, SSPDF acting spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Santo Domic said the exercise has resumed in Tonj area.

“Phase one is peaceful disarmament which is ongoing now. And this process of peaceful disarmament will continue up to the end of December when the road are accessible,” he said.

Brig.-Gen. Domic went on to say the process of removing illegal arms from civilians will soon move to nearby states as directed by the president in early 2021.

“As soon as we succeed in Tonj, we will implement the same disarmament in some other areas like Lakes, Bentiu and so forth,” he added.

In May, the UN Human Rights Commission said that there has been an increase in intercommunal violence with more than 658 people killed, more than 452 wounded, and 592 abducted in 2020 alone.

President Salva Kiir ordered for the disarmament exercise this year due to what it described as the militarized nature of communal conflicts.

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