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

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs