Yei — South Sudan on Wednesday called for a peaceful resolution to conflict in the neighbouring country of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where dissident armed groups last week took control of the provincial capital of Goma, displacing a substantial number of civilians into the new nation.
"We have not yet conducted a head count of individual Congolese nationals arriving daily, but the number of Congolese in the area now as a result of the recent conflict in the eastern part of Congo, which borders us and Uganda has increased significantly. So far, we have 80,000 Congolese living here with the status of refugees as a result of previous conflicts, but I believe the number has increased. There are new arrivals on daily basis. They are all over the area," Juma David Augustine, commissioner of Yei River county told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday.
The M23 rebels took control of the eastern Congolese town of Goma 22 November. The UN has warned of an impending humanitarian crisis as food and medical supplies are running low.
Augustine said South Sudan supports the position adopted during the meeting of regional leaders in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, where rebels and Congolese president Joseph Kabila are reported to have met on the sidelines of the meeting for the first time since rebels intensified their activities eastern parts of Congo early this year.
"I know I am not the right person to speak on behalf of the Government of South Sudan but I believe our government would definitely support peaceful conflict resolution in Congo. As part of the international community, we must all stand up as one family to advocate and stand together for peace and dialogue in the region," said Augustine.
He said conflict in Congo had "considerably" affected commercial activities between the two nations, since the conflict intensified in September, resulting into "negligible taxes" reaching the central treasury, although the border remains open.
"The conflict has affected commercial activities considerably since September. Most the people crossing into the area from Congo now are those fleeing the violence. Traders have the stopped movement with goods," explained Augustine.
Joseph Lual Acuil, South Sudan Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management said his country is "overstretched" with limited resources to support humanitarian response operations.
"We are aware of the conflict in Congo. The conflict there is raising humanitarian concerns not only to the Congolese people but also to us in South Sudan because the civilian population will definitely cross to our side," Acuil told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday.
He said he is aware of the consequences because "war in any part of the world affects us all. Therefore, we must all stand up as one family to advocate and stand together for peace and peaceful coexistence."