News / Africa

S. Sudan Army Accused of 'Serious Abuses' in Jonglei

  • The UN Mission in South Sudan helps to medevac people who were wounded in clashes in Jonglei state, from Manyabol to Bor, the state capital, on July 14.
  • Global rights group Human Rights Watch says the army of South Sudan has committed "serious abuses against civilians in its anti-insurgency campaign in Jonglei state" against rebels led by David Yau Yau, shown here. 
  • Internally displaced persons rest in Pibor, Jonglei state in Jan. 2012 after fleeing the surrounding areas following a wave of ethnic violence. A new wave of clashes in July 2013 between the Lou Nuer and Murle has displaced thousands and left an unknown number wounded or dead, according to Human Rights Watch.
  • Wounded fighters from the Lou Nuer ethnic group, most of whom suffered gunshot wounds from fighting with Murle in Jonglei state, recover at a hospital in the state capital Bor.
  • Jonglei, South Sudan.
TEXT SIZE - +
Charlton Doki

The global rights group, Human Rights Watch, on Friday accused the army of South Sudan of committing "serious abuses against civilians in its anti-insurgency campaign in Jonglei state" and of taking sides in a bitter and deadly inter-ethnic conflict in the restive state.

“Yet again the government of South Sudan has utterly failed to stop armed Lou Nuer youth from moving into ethnic Murle areas, despite advance warnings that they were mobilizing,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

“This failure, together with a spate of serious abuses by soldiers in the area, only reinforces the perception that South Sudan’s leaders are taking sides in this ethnic conflict,” he said.

The rights group said soldiers shot three local chiefs and five other men in the town of Manyabol in late May, and  have killed numerous civilians, including women and children, since the army launched an offensive several months ago against David Yau Yau, a rebel leader and an ethnic Murle.

Army spokesman Philip Aguer denied the accusations.

“The army has been fighting only insurgents. We do not fight civilians," he said.

"Any deaths of civilians that have been reported,  we cannot accept because our soldiers have only been fighting the insurgents of Yau Yau. If there are people who are killed in crossfire then we need to examine that and see what happened and who was conducting operations in those areas.”

The total number of casualties from heavy fighting earlier this month between the Lou Nuer and Murle is not known, but on Monday, the South Sudanese army and the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) airlifted nearly 200 wounded Lou Nuer men to Bor, the state capital, for treatment, Human Rights Watch said.

"Injured Murle, presumed to be in the hundreds, have yet to be located," it said. 

The French medical charity, Doctors Without Borders, has said it and the International Committee of the Red Cross have treated 176 patients in Bor, including 128 people with gunshot wounds.

Human Rights Watch accused the army of doing little to protect civilians in Jonglei, in spite of having a heavy troop presence in the state for the offensive against Yau Yau.

But Aguer defended the military, saying it did not have the capacity to stop tribal clashes, especially in remote areas.

“We cannot provide protection in every village because the type of village settlements we have are scattered, so that even if you have thousands of troops, it will be extremely difficult to protect each village," he said.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Thursday that about 40,000 inhabitants have been displaced in Pibor county -- the heart of Yau Yau's insurrection and the army offensive to crush it.  All six major population centers in Pibor have been abandoned, at least 8,500 Murle are estimated to have fled to neighboring countries and around 7,000 to Juba.

Yau Yau’s forces have contributed to the exodus and panic by attacking the town of Pibor and warning civilians to leave ahead of more threatened offensives.

But dozens of displaced Murle interviewed by Human Rights Watch said they fled their homes not out of fear of the rebels, but of further killings and looting by South Sudanese soldiers.

“We were hoping that the soldiers were coming to protect us (from Yau Yau’s forces), but instead they are killing us,” a Murle civilian from Pibor who fled to Juba was quoted as saying in the Human Rights Watch report.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid