News / Africa

In South Sudan, Once Bustling Malakal Now a Ghost-town

A woman walks through the UNMISS camp in Malakal, where rain has turned the dirt paths into mud.
A woman walks through the UNMISS camp in Malakal, where rain has turned the dirt paths into mud.

"I have never seen conditions like these in my life."

That's how World Food Program (WFP) spokeswoman Challiss McDonough described what she saw when she visited at the U.N. Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) compound in Malakal last week with WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin and UNICEF head Anthony Lake.

Around 17,000 people have sought shelter at the U.N. base in the capital of Upper Nile state that has witnessed some of the worst fighting in South Sudan's seven-month conflict.

There's only activity in a couple of places and this enormous population living in a lake of mud at the U.N. base.

"People are living on top of each other, and it's the rainy season now," McDonough said. "The place where people are staying has turned into a sea of mud."

During the U.N. officials' visit to the UNMISS camp, "We got caught in a downpour that turned the place into a giant raging river," she said.

From trading hub to ghost-town

Outside the walls of the U.N. compound, the town of Malakal itself has been turned from a bustling trading post on the banks of the White Nile River into a ghost-town, McDonough said.

"Malakal is one of the larger cities in South Sudan, and today it's practically abandoned," she said.

Shrubbery has overtaken parts of the South Sudan town of Malakal that used to be bustling with activity.
Shrubbery has overtaken parts of the South Sudan town of Malakal that used to be bustling with activity.

"You see streets that have grown up with tall grasses, shrubs, sorghum but eight months ago, it was a thriving bustling city with many thousands of people living there.

"Now, there's only activity in a couple of places, and this enormous population living in a lake of mud at the U.N. base," McDonough said.

Aid agencies are working as best they can to prevent disease outbreaks at the UNMISS camp, McDonough said.

You see streets that have grown up with tall grasses, shrubs, sorghum. It's completely abandoned.

"But they need additional resources and  more space," not just for displaced South Sudanese but also for  humanitarian workers, who are living in the same "appalling conditions" as the displaced in the U.N. camp in Malakal.

Government and opposition forces have fought pitched battles for control of Malakal, the capital of South Sudan's largest oil-producing state.

When the fighting first reached the town in late December, tens of thousands of people fled, either to rural areas that they considered safe or to the U.N. compound.

But, since then, "the fighting has spread from the cities to the rural areas where people initially felt safe... and the people have had to move again and again and again," McDonough said. 

World Food Program's Challiss McDonough says South Sudan's Malakal a ghost-town
World Food Program's Challiss McDonough says South Sudan town of Malakal a ghost-town i
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

 

 

You May Like

Cambodia Seeks Official UN Maps for Vietnam Border

Notice of request comes as 2 countries open border talks Tuesday after a clash last month More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Deng kuol lualdit from: Aweil
August 03, 2014 4:02 PM
We citizen of south sudan are only hopping Almighty God to help us from the power greedy leaders not only south sudanese but also white farmers plus Igad who r enjoying the complication of peace talk in addis ababa

by: koug from: Cairo
July 30, 2014 2:59 PM
Really I feeling very sorry my city's town was been disdoryed Malakal by Nuer people killing innocent people because they're not human being ...We help would to saving our people's life please we need your our people's going to deaths.

by: McOyit from: Cape Town
July 30, 2014 1:40 PM
I feel so sorry for people of my home city Malakal. Thousands have lost their lives and thousands are starving plus thousands are live in extremely terrible humanitarian situation in South Sudan, just simply because of one called rebel and another one protecting his government.

Shame on u guys! Anyone who did bad against people of South Sudan, will never walk Away and go free! Even some people see themselves above the law, but God is watching.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Maia Pujara
July 07, 2015 10:01 PM
A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbs

A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs