NAIROBI, Kenya — A fortnight ago the UN said it was 60,000, now it is 120,000 and may well rise to 180,000 people who need help in the wake of a spate of violent cattle raiding attacks in Jonglei, a remote state in South Sudan.
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UN Humanitarian Coordinator Lisa Grande said:
"The violence in Jonglei hasn't stopped... Only two weeks ago we launched a massive emergency operation to help 60,000 people. As a result of recent attacks, we now estimate that double that number will need help."
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Speaking to reporters in the capital Juba on Friday, Grande added that if the tit-for-tat raids and killings continues the number will rise still further.
The worst attack so far happened in and around the town of Pibor, where as many as 8,000 Lou-Nuer warriors descended on the Murle inhabitants killing an unknown number over New Year. One local official has said 3,000 died; the government doesn't know and the UN hasn't yet counted but variously says "dozens" or "hundreds" were killed.
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The government says it plans to disarm tribal fighters but this has never worked in the past and as the attacks continue and spread they threaten to make some parts of the world's newest nation ungovernable.