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

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.