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Peace returns to Kaldak payam

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4 July 2011 - An UNMIS team visited Kaldak payam (township) in Jonglei State today to assess the security and humanitarian situation following the 23 April clashes between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the rebel armed group affiliated with Gabriel Tanginye.

An estimated 254 people died and another 250 were wounded in the conflict, while those who were unharmed fled to neighbouring Canal and Phom El Zaraf villages. The township, located in Pigi County, has a population of about 2,000 people.

“People have started to return to Kaldak, although not all,” Moses Thou, Kaldak secretary of South Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission(SRRC) told the UNMIS team.

According to area police, the security situation in Kaldak is calm now. “Thirty-five Southern Sudan Police Service (SSPS) officers have been deployed here to assist the community (with) security,” said SSPS Kaldak Commander Sergeant Major Akoch Thon.

But residents are in dire need of food and shelter, as homes were burnt to the ground and the planting season interrupted following the fighting.

“We wanted to start cultivating but it’s too late, (the) rainy season has started already,” Mr. Thou said. “What we are doing now is cutting some wood and selling (it). Once we get money we can go to Canal or Malakal to buy some food.”

Eight teachers are conducting lessons for some 520 students under trees, as their school was destroyed in the violence.

During and after the clash, UNMIS evacuated 70 of the seriously injured to Malakal in Upper Nile State, cleared landmines out of the area and assisted the Jonglei State authority in post-conflict investigations.

Humanitarian organizations, including theInternational Committee of the Red Cross, helped to bury 17 of the dead, while Médecins Sans Frontières Holland provided medical care such as vaccinations, ante-natal care and medicine to residents for a week in June.

The World Food Programme conducted an assessment of non-food-items and food distribution needs. “We hope that humanitarian assistance will be arriving soon so we can start to rebuild our lives,” said Mr. Thou.