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

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