File photo: Displaced people in Pibor, Greater Pibor Area, January 2012 (OCHA/Cecilia Attefors)

Illiteracy driver in child abduction and cattle raids, says GPAA official

The Chief Administrator of the Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA) attributes the surge in cases of cattle raiding and child abduction between GPAA and its neighboring regions to high illiteracy rates and the absence of essential services.

The Chief Administrator of the Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA) attributes the surge in cases of cattle raiding and child abduction between GPAA and its neighbouring regions to high illiteracy rates and the absence of essential services.

Lokuli Ame Bullen addressed this issue on Thursday during the ongoing 7th Governors Forum in Juba, emphasizing that many youths participate in these activities due to a lack of education and basic services.

Lokuli stressed that providing education and essential services would deter youth from engaging in such activities, urging the national government to extend basic services, including the establishment of schools across GPAA.

He stated, “No educated man or woman from GPAA would participate in child abduction or cattle raiding,” highlighting that the area’s insecurity primarily stems from underdevelopment and the absence of basic services.

“The problem in the Greater Pibor Administrative Area is an underdevelopment issue. I urge all our partners supporting South Sudan to contribute to the development of the Greater Pibor Administrative Area,” Lokuli emphasized.

“We’ve raised concerns about the issues of child abduction and cattle raiding, emphasizing that educated individuals are not involved in these activities. The root cause of the problem is education,” stressed Lokuli.

The Chief Administrator further disclosed that, unlike youths in other states attending classes, the majority of GPAA youth are in cattle camps. He explained, “Our youths mostly reside in cattle camps without any services reaching them. They rely solely on their guns or rifles for survival. Convincing them to abandon these activities is challenging without providing essential services.”

He also urged the national government to establish schools and implement vocational training programs for the youth in the area to reduce violence. Despite the persistent question of why the youth in Greater Pibor engage in cattle raiding and child abduction, Bullen highlighted education and lack of services as the primary causes.

As the current Chief Administrator, Lokuli admitted the difficulty in persuading young people to renounce child abduction and cattle raiding. He pointed out that many predecessors attempted to address these issues without success.

He appealed to the national government to deploy Unified forces to provide protection, stating, “Your excellency, we need to deploy forces in Greater Pibor to halt the violence between GPAA and Jonglei, as well as the issues of child abduction and cattle raiding. Without security forces, resolving this community violence between the two communities is impossible.”

In response, Dr. Riek Machar Teny, the First Vice President, acknowledged the significance of the issues raised and concurred that educated individuals from the Murle community would be less likely to engage in negative activities.

“We have the solution in education. If we can provide education to a majority of the children there, then the problem will be resolved,” stated Dr. Riek Machar. “Thank you, Lokuli, for bringing up this crucial topic. I agree with you that no educated Murle individual would participate in cattle raiding or child abduction.”