News / Africa

Crisis in South Sudan Deepens

An internally displaced boy carries his belongings inside a United Nations Missions in a compound in Juba, South Sudan, Dec. 19, 2013.
An internally displaced boy carries his belongings inside a United Nations Missions in a compound in Juba, South Sudan, Dec. 19, 2013.
Gabe Joselow
— The South Sudanese government has lost control of territory north of the capital, as fighting that already has split the armed forces threatens to further divide the country. Civilians are continuing to flee the violence.

Meanwhile, South Sudan's former vice president has called for the overthrow of President Salva Kiir, as tension and violence continue to rise in Africa's newest country.

Riek Machar told Radio France Internationale on Thursday that he would like to see a "palace revolution" in which the military topples the head of state.

The government says soldiers under the command of a renegade general took control of the town of Bor, the capital of Jonglei state, on Wednesday.
 
Internally displaced persons

The fighting has forced thousands of civilians to flee towns in the area, with many taking refuge at the United Nations compound on the outskirts of the city.
 
South Sudanese Foreign Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin told VOA that government officials in Bor were forced to flee the town center for the safety of an army barracks.
 
Bor, South SudanBor, South Sudan
x
Bor, South Sudan
Bor, South Sudan
“So the fighting is still going. We don’t have full control of it because the army is divided and the fighting continues, destruction continues,” said Benjamin.
 
Benjamin said the government plans to send additional troops to the area to try to recover control.
 
“You have to protect the sovereignty of the country. The government forces must make sure that the capital of Jonglei comes back to the sovereignty of the state of South Sudan," said Benjamin.

Fighting broke out between security forces in South Sudan's capital, Juba, earlier this week, prompting widespread violence in the city that, according to U.N. estimates, may have left up to 500 people dead.

Explosive rift

Kiir had accused Machar of launching a coup attempt earlier this week with an attack on army headquarters in the capital, Juba. That fighting set off violence that the government says has killed some 500 people and wounded 700 others.

Kiir on Wednesday said he is willing to hold talks with Machar, who he fired as vice president in July during a wider cabinet reshuffle.

Thursday, the government said rebelling soldiers had seized control of Bor, a town north of Juba.  

The government insisted it was in total control of Juba, saying the airport had reopened and that government ministries are operating.

However, the U.S. embassy went ahead with an evacuation flight for U.S. citizens who want to leave the country.

Observers have raised concerns that a rift between Machar, from the Nuer ethnic group, and Kiir, a Dinka, could fuel already-chronic tribal violence in South Sudan.

Human Rights Watch Africa analyst Leslie Lefkow said South Sudanese soldiers may have specifically targeted people from the Nuer ethnic group during this week's fighting in Juba.

"We've spoken to a lot of people in Juba who were witnesses of what has been happening over the last few days and people have told us really horrifying accounts of civilians - men, women and children - who were in their houses, in their compounds, hiding from the fighting, and who were actively sought out by soldiers coming into their homes, shooting them, often asking people whether they were Dinka or Nuer," said Lefkow.

Human Rights Watch also said there are reports that Nuer soldiers had targeted ethnic Dinkas.

The government denied there was an ethnic element to what it describes as Machar's "aborted coup."

Peace attempts underway

In another development, top ministers from the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development [IGAD] group are traveling to South Sudan on a peace mission.

The group was instrumental in mediating a 2005 agreement that ended Sudan's civil war with what was then its southern region.

Kiir said Wednesday he is willing to hold talks with Machar. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged the president to engage with his opponents and cooperate with the United Nations.

"This is a political crisis, and urgently needs to be dealt with through political dialogue. There is a risk of this violence spreading to other states, and we have already seen some signs of this," said Ban.

Ban said Wednesday that as many as 20,000 people have take refuge with the U.N. mission in the capital, Juba.

  • Members of the South Sudan rebel delegation attend the opening ceremony of South Sudan's peace negotiations, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, January 4, 2014.
  • Taban Deng Gai, left, head of the rebel delegation and South Sudan's leader of the government delegation, Nhial Deng Nhial, attend the opening ceremony of South Sudan's peace negotiations, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, January 4, 2014.
  • Unidentified members of the delegation from the South Sudan government and western observers meet at the Sheraton Hotel, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, January 4, 2014.
  • A displaced mother and her baby, one of the few to have a mosquito net, wake up at a refugee camp, Awerial, South Sudan, Jan. 2, 2014.
  • A young displaced girl carries a bucket of water back to her makeshift shelter at a United Nations compound. The compound has become home to thousands of people displaced by the recent fighting, Juba, South Sudan, Dec. 31, 2013.
  • Displaced people gather inside a mosquito net tent as they flee from the fighting between the South Sudanese army and rebels in Bor town, in Juba, South Sudan, Dec. 30, 2013.
  • A displaced woman hangs up laundry on the plastic sheeting wall of a latrine at a United Nations compound, Juba, South Sudan, Dec. 31, 2013.
  • Yared, 2, is held by his mother, Madhn, who fled from the town of Bor a few days ago. She receives medicine for her child at a Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) medical tent, at a United Nations compound, Juba, South Sudan, Dec. 31, 2013.
  • A young displaced boy rests on the wheel arch of a water truck while others fill containers from it, at a United Nations compound, Juba, South Africa, Dec. 31, 2013.
  • A family makes tea outside their makeshift shelter at a United Nations compound, Juba, South Sudan, Dec. 31, 2013.
  • A general view of a camp for displaced people set up in a United Nations compound in Bor, South Sudan, Dec. 25, 2013.
  • South Sudan army soldiers hold their weapons as they ride on a truck in Bor, Dec. 25, 2013.

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Kwach from: nairobi
December 21, 2013 2:53 AM
Salva Kiir has just fanned ethnic violence and could degenerate into a full blown civil war,...why did he mention Machar, then go out and arrest former ministers? the issue is Dinka soldiers tried to disarm Nuer ones, nobody knows why,...that is not a coup, its military indiscipline....Kiir should be more disciplined and responsible like a head of state, not a bandit!!So what has he gained, more popularity?


by: waragak from: usa
December 20, 2013 10:50 PM
salva kiir attacked Riek Machar. ppl get it right. he target nuer civilians in their homes killing them one by one like dogs. if they had conflict why didnt kiir wait to address Machar individually and professional like government official would. Kiir did not have to send his troops to arrest Machar who quietly was removed with others.Why didnt Salva stop his troops from pulling innocent civilians from nuer tribe from their homes. Kiir is heartless.


by: paul from: kenya
December 20, 2013 1:06 AM
its saddenung and very irresponsible for machar to take sudan back to war. time has come for african leaders to act abit more responsibly

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid