News / Africa

Amid Death and Ruin, Life Stumbles Back in South Sudan's Bor

Displaced people who crossed the White Nile to flee fighting between government and rebel forces in Bor prepare to sleep in the open in Awerial, South Sudan. (Ben Curtis/AP)
Displaced people who crossed the White Nile to flee fighting between government and rebel forces in Bor prepare to sleep in the open in Awerial, South Sudan. (Ben Curtis/AP)
Philip Aleu
When Mary Yar was shot in the chest last month by anti-government forces who overran the town of Bor for the second time in as many weeks, she walked two kilometers to the nearest hospital for care.

That's where anti-government troops threatened to rape and rob the grandmother in her sixties.
I told them, 'You are my sons' and they never raped me. But other, younger women were raped.

“'Let us have sex with you. Bring your phone and money.' This is all that they want," Yar told VOA.

"I told them that my dead husband would not ask me for sex at this age. I told them, 'You are my sons' and they never raped me. But other, younger women were raped," she said.

"They don’t behave like human beings. How can my sons ask for sex from me?”

Ayor Garang, who was at the same hospital as Yar for treatment of a back problem, said two other patients -- one a former soldier who lost his leg during the long war with Sudan and the other a man he called Hussein -- were shot and their bodies dumped outside.

Weeks later, the corpses of the two men were still outside the hospital, Garang said.

Deng Dau Deng, chair of the Greater Bor Caucus in the National Assembly, said local officials in the town have estimated that at least 2,000 people were killed in fighting in Bor.

Near the hospital, the bodies of 14 women lay on the grounds of the Anglican church compound.

A mother sits with her infant in a clinic run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Minkammen, 25 kilometers (16 miles) south of Bor, Jan. 10, 2014.A mother sits with her infant in a clinic run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Minkammen, 25 kilometers (16 miles) south of Bor, Jan. 10, 2014.
x
A mother sits with her infant in a clinic run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Minkammen, 25 kilometers (16 miles) south of Bor, Jan. 10, 2014.
A mother sits with her infant in a clinic run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Minkammen, 25 kilometers (16 miles) south of Bor, Jan. 10, 2014.
"Maybe when the fighting occurred, they ran here thinking it is a safe place," June Malet, a lawmaker for Bor at the National Assembly, told VOA..

"They think the fighting is between the soldiers. They think they are ordinary people, the soldiers don’t need them,” Malet said.

Later the same day, Malet found her mother’s body in the family home. She had been shot and killed.


Government, Opposition Swap Blame for Bor Destruction


People in Bor and representatives of President Salva Kiir's government accuse opposition forces of leveling the town and killing civilians, but opposition spokesman Yohanis Musa rejected the accusation.

"Bor is our town. We cannot destroy it," Musa told VOA from Addis Ababa, where the two sides in the conflict are holding slow-moving peace talks.

He blamed the death and destruction in Bor on the government and Ugandan troops who are fighting on the side of Kiir and "bombing the town every day."

"The South Sudan government are the ones who brought in Ugandan troops, so they are the ones who can hold responsibility as well," Musa said.

No official death toll has been given for any of the fighting in South Sudan, but a U.N. official who visited the country this week, including towns like Bor, Bentiu and Malakal that have seen heavy fighting, said he believed "many thousands" have perished in the country since it plunged into violence on Dec. 15.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in its latest report on South Sudan that more than half a million people have been forced from their homes by the fighting, including 114,500 in Jonglei state.

Many of those who fled Bor headed to Ethiopia or across the White Nile River into Lakes state, while around 10,000 are sheltering in U.N. bases in and around the town.

A woman stands with her daughter in the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) clinic set up at the camp for displaced people in the grounds of the United Nations Mission to South Sudan (UNMISS) base in Juba, South Sudan, on January 12, 2014.A woman stands with her daughter in the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) clinic set up at the camp for displaced people in the grounds of the United Nations Mission to South Sudan (UNMISS) base in Juba, South Sudan, on January 12, 2014.
x
A woman stands with her daughter in the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) clinic set up at the camp for displaced people in the grounds of the United Nations Mission to South Sudan (UNMISS) base in Juba, South Sudan, on January 12, 2014.
A woman stands with her daughter in the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) clinic set up at the camp for displaced people in the grounds of the United Nations Mission to South Sudan (UNMISS) base in Juba, South Sudan, on January 12, 2014.
OCHA described Bor as being "virtually empty of civilians" last week as the security situation grew more tense. Aid flights were put on hold, and officials warned that the displaced in Bor "urgently require healthcare," in particular vaccinations against measles, which has already claimed the lives of an unspecified number of children in camps for the displaced.

OCHA also said that people wounded in the fighting in Bor and Bentiu, the capital of Unity state, are in desperate need of emergency surgery. More than 3,100 people have been treated for gunshot wounds around South Sudan, the U.N. agency said.


Amid destruction, Bor residents start coming home


Amid the desolation and destruction, some residents of Bor, like 19-year-old Andrew Akuok, who fled across the White Nile to Lakes state before the most recent bout of fighting in the capital of Jonglei state, are beginning to make their way back home. 

“We are not people of Lakes state. We are people of Jonglei state," Akuok told VOA.

"Even though we lost many people, we will come back. We will come back, all,” he said.

You May Like

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
January 23, 2014 2:12 AM
your lair

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs