South Sudan: Jonglei – “We Have Always Been at War”

By Crisis Group
Posted to the web on January 04, 2015


The Anuyak live in Pochalla and Akobo counties in eastern Jonglei and, like the Nuer, there is a substantial population across the border in Ethiopia. Relations between Anuyak and Nuer in Ethiopia and Sudan are deeply intertwined. Anuyak involvement in South Sudan’s armed movements began with their support for Anyanya I and Pochalla became one of the SPLA’s first bases. The Sudanese government retook Pochalla in 1992 with the support of some Ethiopian Anuyak and it fell again to the SPLA in 1996. The Anuyak suffered at the hands of both the SPLA and Khartoum and experienced repeated displacements, including from all but one payam of Akobo, an historic Anuyak homeland.

While the CPA brought relative peace to the Anuyak, many feel marginalised at all levels of governance, and land appropriation by Lou Nuer in Akobo remains unaddressed. Jonglei’s Dinka governors appointed Pochalla’s local government officials and the SPLA garrison was largely non-Anuyak. During the 2012 All-Jonglei Peace Conference, Anuyak unsuccessfully sought to table the land issue, and citizens launched several complaints against appointed officials and the behaviour of the SPLA Pochalla garrison. Given these grievances, the SSDA-CF was able to successfully recruit small numbers of Anuyak. Amid months of heavy fighting with the SSDA-CF and rising tensions, in July 2013 the SPLA shot at a convoy carrying the Anuyak king. The Akobo land issue also reached a boiling point in October 2013 when Lou Nuer youth killed the Anuyak paramount chief prompting thousands to flee to Ethiopia.

The Anuyak of Pochalla are now part of the GPAA, although their level of representation in GPAA structures remains to be seen. Smaller numbers of Anuyak joined the SPLA-IO while the SPLA maintains a garrison there. The land issue remains unresolved but, in the midst of the larger civil war, the Anuyak, Lou Nuer and Murle have agreed to keep all quiet on Jonglei’s eastern front. Similar land issues, such as with the Shilluk in Upper Nile, have already led to violent conflict while others remain boiling beneath the surface. The failure to engage those with serious grievances but not yet fighting leaves a major source of future conflict unaddressed.

The full report is available at

South Sudan: Jonglei – “We Have Always Been at War



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