News / Africa

On Anniversary of Independence Vote, South Sudan 'In Danger of Shattering'

Displaced people walk past razor wire at Tomping camp, where some 15,000 displaced people are sheltered by the United Nations, near Juba, South Sudan, Jan. 7, 2014.
Displaced people walk past razor wire at Tomping camp, where some 15,000 displaced people are sheltered by the United Nations, near Juba, South Sudan, Jan. 7, 2014.
Three years years after the people of South Sudan turned out in huge numbers to vote for independence from Sudan, the world's newest nation is standing on the brink of failure, a senior U.S. official told lawmakers on Capitol Hill Thursday.

"On January 9, 2011, the people of South Sudan voted in overwhelming numbers for independence from the Republic of Sudan," Assistant Secretary of State Linda Thomas-Greenfield told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the situation in South Sudan.

"After decades of war, they were peacefuilly and joyfully voting for separation and a new future. Today, tragically, the world's youngest country and undoubtedly one of the most fragile democracies is in danger of shattering," she said.

Tragically, the world's youngest country and undoubtedly one of the most fragile democracies is in danger of shattering.
As Thomas-Greenfield spoke in Washington, talks aimed at bringing peace to South Sudan were on hold in Addis Ababa after mediators from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) failed during a trip to Juba to convince South Sudanese President Salva Kiir to release 11 senior members of the ruling party who were arrested when the unrest started on Dec. 15.

Kiir has said the unrest was triggered by an attempted coup, led by his former Vice President Riek Machar. Machar has consistently denied the accusations, and observers have said the violence erupted when renegade soldiers attacked an army headquarters building in Juba.

Opposition delegates at the talks have asked that the detainees be released before they will agree to a ceasefire, but Kiir "refused point-blank" to the IGAD mediators' request to free them, a spokesman for Machar said Thursday.

In spite of the negotiations stalling, they were not in danger of collapsing, the spokesman, Hussein Mar Nyuot, told reporters in Addis Ababa Thursday.

Members of South Sudan rebel delegation attend the opening ceremony of South Sudan's negotiation in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, Jan. 4, 2014.Members of South Sudan rebel delegation attend the opening ceremony of South Sudan's negotiation in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, Jan. 4, 2014.
x
Members of South Sudan rebel delegation attend the opening ceremony of South Sudan's negotiation in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, Jan. 4, 2014.
Members of South Sudan rebel delegation attend the opening ceremony of South Sudan's negotiation in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, Jan. 4, 2014.
"We are disappointed... that the president turned down the request to release the political detainees but it is something we can discuss," Mar Nyuot said.

"I can't say the talks are going to collapse...On our part we are very positive. We are not pulling out of IGAD," he said, adding that "big pressure" is being put on Kiir "and we are hopeful he will change his mind." 

Mar Nyuot said the talks will resume when IGAD mediators call the two sides back to the negotiating table.


Civilians Flee Bentiu


On the ground in South Sudan, civilians continued to flee fighting between government troops and forces loyal to Machar.

United Nations' humanitarian official Toby Lanzer described in a series of Twitter messages scenes of devastation and violence in the town of Bentiu, in Unity State, which fell to forces loyal to Machar days after the fighting erupted in Juba more than three weeks ago.

Many people were "on the move," Lanzer tweeted, describing Bentiu as a ghost-town with "virtually no civilians"  amid reports that government troops are advancing toward the town.

The market, usually a hive of activity and commerce, has been destroyed, and heavily armed men who say they back Machar are walking around the city, Lanzer wrote.

The U.N. Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has evacuated some 500 civilians who had gathered at the compound of the World Food Programme in Bentiu and taken them to the U.N. base for safety.

Mongolian peacekeepers have dug a trench and built a berm around the base to try to better protect the civilians sheltering there, he said.

Soldiers from Rwanda serving under United Nations Mission in South Sudan keep watch from an observatory point at Tomping camp, near Juba, Jan. 7, 2014.Soldiers from Rwanda serving under United Nations Mission in South Sudan keep watch from an observatory point at Tomping camp, near Juba, Jan. 7, 2014.
x
Soldiers from Rwanda serving under United Nations Mission in South Sudan keep watch from an observatory point at Tomping camp, near Juba, Jan. 7, 2014.
Soldiers from Rwanda serving under United Nations Mission in South Sudan keep watch from an observatory point at Tomping camp, near Juba, Jan. 7, 2014.
The United Nations says more than 60,000 are sheltering on U.N. bases throughout the country, including 8,000 in Bentiu.

Some 250,000 people have been displaced by the fighting, and while no official death toll has been released, a top U.N. official said Thursday it is  likely to be "very substantially in excess of the figure of 1,000 that we know for sure about.”

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid