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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book 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.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs