In a statement issued on Wednesday, Ban spoke out about ongoing tensions between the two communities, echoing comments earlier this week by Hilde F. Johnson, the head of the UN peacekeeping force in South Sudan (UNMISS).
« The Secretary-General calls on the leadership of both groups to cease violence and to work with the Government toward a long-term solution to the root causes of the hostilities, » the statement said.
Demand for high bridal dowries and consequent increased levels of cattle rustling have exacerbated existing ethnic tensions in Jonglei. Air patrols by UNMISS last weekend identified thousands of Lou Nuer youth massing to attack Murle communities near Likuangole, north of Pibor. The Mission has deployed more peacekeepers in the region stepped up air and ground patrols in a bid to dampen tensions.
Ban commended the efforts of the South Sudanese Government to calm the situation and to ensure that vulnerable civilians are protected.
More than 1,000 people are estimated to have been killed in ethnic clashes within South Sudan this year, with Jonglei one of the states worst affected by the violence. Thousands more civilians have been displaced from their homes.