The top commander of the South Sudan army's controversial disarmament campaign in Jonglei state recently announced a shift in the strategy for dealing with the most troublesome challenge to their "Operation Restore Hope"-the David Yau Yau rebellion in Pibor. The SPLA will now "launch aggressive attacks" against the rebels, said Lt. Gen. Kuol Deim Kuol, effectively ending what the SPLA previous said was its plan to only assume defensive positions to allow the necessary space for an initiative that saw local elders travel to their communities to convince the population not to join Yau Yau or to be in possession of guns.
Those local efforts were having limited results, the Enough Project found during recent field research in Pibor, presented in a new report published this week. In September, youth affiliated with Yau Yau shot a chief while he was trying to disseminate this message of peace. The rebellion also appears to have attracted 4,000-6,000 youth, according to the SPLA and UNMISS.
Far from being a stabilizing force, the SPLA's own operations in areas of the state mostly inhabited by Murle community have thus far resulted in at least 100 civilian casualties and have therefore served to stoke animosities that drive youth to join Yau Yau.
In early August, eight SPLA soldiers entered the house of Anna and Tapisa, whose families were disarmed in April. "If you don't tell us about the guns, you will be beaten to death," the SPLA said, pointing guns, according to the two women. "If Yau Yau is going to come here, we will beat you until you die."[view whole blog post ]