MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday raised crisis alert level 3 in South Sudan, as the inter-ethnic violence in the country threatens to escalate. Alert level 3 means the “voluntary repatriation” of Filipinos living in South Sudan.
“For prudence’s sake, we have raised crisis alert level 3 in South Sudan in light of escalating violence. We are ready to move our people out, should they wish to leave,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario said, in a statement.
There are some 150 Filipinos in South Sudan, mostly working in construction companies, with the United Nations and in non-governmental organizations.
With crisis alert level 3, the government is offering to shoulder the cost of repatriating any Filipino who wants to leave South Sudan.
A deployment ban is also put in place in South Sudan immediately. All Filipinos are also advised against traveling to the African country at this time.
The Philippine Embassy in Cairo, which has jurisdiction over South Sudan, has been instructed by the DFA to implement the voluntary repatriation program. A consular/ assistance to nationals mission to South Sudan has been dispatched to validate its contingency plan and provide assistance to Filipinos.
The embassy said the violence is limited to villages in the border area between Sudan and South Sudan.
Tribal clashes kill 24
Reuters on Tuesday reported that tribal clashes have killed at least 24 people in a South Sudan state, where 60,000 people have been displaced due to fighting between two rival tribes.
South Sudan became Africa’s newest nation in July after a referendum agreed under a 2005 peace deal with Khartoum ended decades of civil war that had killed two million people.
But the government in Juba has been struggling to assert its authority over a country roughly the size of France and end tribal and rebel violence in which thousands died last year.
About 60,000 people were displaced last week when armed men of the Lou Nuer tribe attacked settlements of the rival Murle tribe, according to the United Nations.
Some analysts say South Sudan might become a failed state as the government struggles to end tribal and rebel violence, widespread corruption and build up state institutions.