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

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    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.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora