News / Africa

    Aid Agencies Scramble to Avert Health Disaster in South Sudan Town

    Residents of the South Sudanese town of Bentiu flee toward the U.N. base after fresh fighting and targeted killings rocked the town.
    Residents of the South Sudanese town of Bentiu flee toward the U.N. base after fresh fighting and targeted killings rocked the town.
    Andrew GreenCharlton Doki
    Humanitarian agencies are scrambling to provide services to thousands of new arrivals at the United Nations base in Bentiu, where the number of people seeking refuge has risen more than six-fold since opposition forces overran the town 10 days ago.

    “At the moment, in our base in Bentiu, we’ve got over 350 people who are sharing a latrine, the reason being that, just 10 days ago, there were 4,500 people in the base and today it's 25,000," the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, Toby Lanzer, said after visiting Bentiu last week.

    Lanzer said the number of civilians seeking protection at the camp "is growing exponentially and we’re in a real game of catch-up to provide... services to people who are seeking our protection.” 

    Aid agencies are building latrines and digging boreholes for the new arrivals as quickly as they are able to, Lanzer said.


    Latrines collapse, drinking water scarce 


    The start of the rainy season in South Sudan has added to the woes of thousands who have fled their homes to seek protection inside the U.N. base in Bentiu after a resurgence of fighting in Unity state was followed by what the United Nations has described as targeted ethnic killings, allegedly carried out by opposition fighters.

    The U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) said thousands of people who have flooded into the U.N. camp are receiving just one liter of drinking water per day and reiterated Lanzer's warning that sanitary facilities are inadequate.  

    "The situation has become really, really desperate there. It was down to just one liter of safe drinking water per person, per day, and people cannot survive on that," UNICEF spokeswoman in South Sudan, Doune Porter, told VOA.


    Trucks that bring fresh water to the camp "face a precarious security situation and frequently become stuck on roads muddied by heavy rains," and the rains caused several latrines at the U.N. base to collapse, UNICEF said. 

    If the rainwater mixes with sewage, "That's absolutely a recipe for a public health disaster," Porter said.

    "So, between getting more water up there and constructing new latrines, we're hoping very, very quickly the situation will improve," she said.

    But UNICEF has lost supplies that were supposed to be sent to Bentiu, to looters, Porter said.

    According to UNICEF, many other aid agencies have pulled out of Bentiu altogether because of the volatile security situation.


    Bodies litter streets of Bentiu


    Lanzer said that during his visit to Bentiu on Sunday, he counted "well over 100 bodies... lying in the streets and in the market area and around religious institutions -- places where people thought that they would be safe."

    He said the macabre scenes he and other U.N. officials saw in Bentiu were "the results of targeted killing, which has come during an episode of violence, I think never before seen in South Sudan to this extent."

    The United Nations on Monday accused anti-government forces of carrying out targeted killings in a mosque, a Roman Catholic church, a hospital and an abandoned World Food Program (WFP) compound where people had taken shelter. The opposition fighters allegedly entered the different places where people had sought shelter from the fighting, and singled out and killed people based on their ethnicity or nationality.

    The targeted killings are believed to have taken place after opposition forces recaptured Bentiu last week from government troops.
    It was down to just one liter of safe drinking water per person, per day, and people cannot survive on that.


    The U.N. quoted Lanzer as saying he saw the remains of people who were had clearly been executed, including people who were trying to seek shelter in a mosque in Bentiu.

    U.N. officials saw a tractor removing bodies from the road near the mosque, taking them for burial.

    Shoes and clothes were scattered all over the mosque's compound, and a pile of bodies lay decomposing outside the gates of the place of worship, the U.N. said.
     
    The opposition said in  a news release that the accusations against it “baseless” and “ridiculous."

    A spokesman for the rebels denied to VOA that opposition fighters targeted civilians in Bentiu. 

    "What they were doing is to make sure the town was clear, looking maybe for remnants of government troops. They were not looking for civilians," ​ opposition spokesman James Gadet told VOA.

    You May Like

    Video Somali, AU Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    Somalia’s Western backers frustrated over country’s slow progress in establishing its armed forces to bring security after 25 years of chaos

    Israel Makes Push for Gaza Strip Recovery

    After years of economic blockade and attempts to disable Hamas, Israeli leaders eventually realized that Hamas’ downfall could lead to chaos or the rise of a more radical Jihadist group

    Slump in Chinese Tourists Hitting Hong Kong Retail

    Mainland Chinese account for up to three-quarters of visitors to Hong Kong, but that number is falling, and shopping centers are struggling to 'shift gears' and maintain sales

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shababi
    X
    Henry Ridgwell
    April 28, 2016 4:20 PM
    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Town Receives Refugees but Lacks Resources

    A wave of refugees is pouring into the Kurdish town of Afrin in northern Syria as a result of fighting between rebel forces and Islamic State militants. VOA’s Amina Misto went to the town and reports local authorities are finding it difficult to cope with this influx of internally displaced people. Bronwyn Benito narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Build Human Tissue on Animal Matrix

    The question has always been, if a gecko can grow back its tail, why can't we regenerate our lost body parts? Well, maybe we can, someday. Scientists are moving towards the ability to rebuild fully functioning organs, and have made significant progress replacing muscles and other tissue.
    Video

    Video Containing Chernobyl Radiation Continues 30 Years After Explosion

    April 26 marks the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Hundreds were killed following the explosion and it's estimated that thousands more have died from cancers caused by the radiation. Henry Ridgwell traveled to Chernobyl and reports for VOA on the continuing efforts to decommission the site -- and on the fledgling plans for a new future in the vast exclusion zone.
    Video

    Video Frustration Builds Among Refugees Trapped at Macedonian Border

    On the Greek border with Macedonia, 12,000 refugees continue to wait. Since the route to the rest of Europe was closed last month, the makeshift camp at Idomeni has seen protests and tear gas. But while those here wait, their frustration grows — as do reports of people attempting to find new ways of continuing their journey. John Owens reports from Idomeni.
    Video

    Video Researchers: Bees Help Kenyan Farmers Fend Off Elephants

    Elephant crop-raiding continues to be a major source of human-wildlife conflict in Kenya, so one elephant researcher is helping to alleviate the problem near Tsavo East National Park with beehive fences, which use elephants’ natural aversion to bees to deter them from farms. VOA’s Jill Craig visited the area ahead of this month's Giants Club Summit, which will bring together dignitaries at Mount Kenya to find solutions to combat poaching, the No. 1 threat to elephants.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora