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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
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 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 Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
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 US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of 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.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs