News / Africa

Violence Spiking in South Sudan’s Jonglei State

A woman from the Dinka tribe stands in front of her shelter near Bor, Jonglei state, in South Sudan, March 31, 2012.
A woman from the Dinka tribe stands in front of her shelter near Bor, Jonglei state, in South Sudan, March 31, 2012.
Hannah McNeish
Medical aid agency Doctors Without Borders is warning of a marked increase in violence in South Sudan's troubled Jonglei state. The group, known by its French acronym MSF, says rising numbers of women and children are being stabbed, shot, and beaten - with the youngest victim being just four months old.

MSF says Jonglei state is now the “the epicenter of violence” in South Sudan - a country trying to establish stability after almost five decades of war.

In a report released Tuesday, the medical aid group says traditional cattle raiding has evolved over the last 18 months into a new, more violent dynamic, with escalating cases of maiming, rape, and beatings.

Vile cruelty

Speaking to reporters in Juba, MSF Operations Manager Chris Lockyear expressed dismay at the brutality.

“We’ve seen patients who have been stabbed, shot and patients that have been beaten, and a large proportion of these patients are women and children. And a large proportion of these patients have had their injuries inflicted at a very close range," said Lockyear. "The brutality of some of these attacks, when you hear of a pregnant woman who’s had her stomach cut open so her baby falls out, is horrendous. What we’re trying to do is to highlight the nature of the violence and extent so that hopefully it doesn’t happen again this year.”

MSF attributes the surge in violence to ethnic clashes, a government crackdown and a rebellion.

At the end of 2011 - just six months after South Sudan gained its independence from the north - the new nation was rocked by violence between the rival Lou Nuer and Murle ethnic groups. Thousands of Lou Nuer marched on Murle areas threatening to wipe them out. Smaller Murle groups carried out a spate of revenge attacks. United Nations and local officials put the death toll between 900 and 3,000 people.  

Escalating violence

The new government responded with troops and a disarmament campaign. Rights groups say the effort to quell the ethnic conflict, however, was marred by government forces committing abuses against civilians.

Some analysts say that pushed already disgruntled youths into the hands of rebel leader David Yau Yau, who has been fighting government forces in Jonglei state for months. And that has only incited more hatred and violence.

Stefano Zannini, head of MSF Belgium in South Sudan, said his group has since seen a jump in women and children in Pibor county seeking treatment.

"So 74 percent of the victims of violence treated in the area of Pibor were women and children, with brutal cases, like a one-year child being beaten in front of the mother who was raped," said Zannini.

Sexual crimes

The charity group is also concerned about seeing cases of sexual violence for the first time in Jonglei state, in a country where it is generally considered taboo to report rape.

“The new dynamic I think it is important to highlight is that, present since 2005 in the area of Pibor, MSF never treated, had never seen any cases of rape," said Zannini. "And if you look, for example at 2012, we have received 26 cases of sexual violence - 18 of them rapes and eight attempted rapes. This is one of the things we are very concerned about.”

MSF Operations Manager Lockyear also expressed concern that MSF medical facilities are starting to come under attack.

“The pattern that we’ve seen has been extreme. Four out of six of our health facilities in Jonglei have been razed or looted to the ground.  Nobody has told us why that was and nobody has admitted responsibility to us,” he said.

MSF condemns attacks on its neutral staff, and calls on armed groups to respect the safety of its impartial medical team, but said it remains committed to bringing urgently needed care to the people of Jonglei.

You May Like

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes 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.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More