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

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More