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

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.