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

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party 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.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs