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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fairi
X
Brian Padden
May 29, 2015 1:27 PM
With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs