News / Africa

Stop Targeting Civilians, ICRC Head Tells South Sudan Warring Factions

  • Three children walk through a spontaneous camp for internally displaced persons at the United Nations Mission to South Sudan (UNMISS) base in Juba, Jan. 9, 2014.
  • People unload the few belongings on Jan. 9, 2014 at Minkammen, South Sudan, that they were able to bring with them to camps for the displaced.
  • Displaced men recuperate from their injuries as they rest on the floor at a United Nations hospital in Tomping camp, near Juba, Jan. 7, 2014.
  • A displaced man, undergoing treatments for his injuries, is seen at a United Nations hospital 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.
  • Displaced people wash their clothes in a drainage canal at Tomping camp, near Juba, Jan. 7, 2014.
  • Displaced people prepare their meals at Tomping camp near Juba, Jan. 7, 2014.
  • Refugees who fled the recent violence in South Sudan and crossed the border into Uganda, settle in the village of Ochaya, Jan. 7, 2013.
  • Refugees who fled the recent violence in South Sudan and crossed the border into Uganda rest and await transportation from a transit center in Koboko, Jan. 6, 2014.
  • Refugees who fled the recent violence in South Sudan and crossed the border into Uganda are seen in Koboko, Jan. 6, 2014.
Displaced South Sudanese
Charlton Doki
The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) wrapped up a three-day visit to South Sudan Wednesday with a call to the warring factions in the world's newest nation to stop targeting civilians and to give aid agencies unfettered access to people in need.

"I am reiterating my urgent call for all parties to the conflict to cease their attacks on civilians and to facilitate safe access for humanitarian agencies," ICRC head Peter Maurer told reporters in Juba.

Maurer said well over 1,000 civilians have been killed in the violence that began in Juba on Dec. 15 in what President Salva Kiir has said was a failed bid to oust him, orchestrated by 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. The two sides are holding talks in Addis Ababa to try to reach a peace deal.

A precise death toll in the fighting is unknown, but the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has said at least 1,000 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands have fled their homes since the violence erupted and spread around the country.

“The fact that civilians have to precipitously to flee their homes is obviously a violation of international humanitarian law because their homes have become battlefields of military exchanges," Maurer said.

"We are appealing to all sides to respect the distinction between military and civilian objectives and persons,” he said.


'Dire and difficult' situation in South Sudan

Maurer described the situation in South Sudan as “dire and very difficult” and noted that hospitals are ill-equipped to treat the hundreds -- possibly thousands -- of people suffering from gunshot wounds across the country.

"I was struck to see the lack of capacity of the hospitals, where patients are lying on the floor -- the incoming as well as the operated patients. There are no beds. There are insufficient support staff to treat patients,” Maurer said.

During his visit, the ICRC chief visited a hospital in Bentiu, in Unity state, where ICRC personnel have been treating some of the hundreds of people who have been wounded in fighting between forces loyal to Machar and government troops. Bentiu was captured by Machar loyalists early on in the conflict.

The United Nations said Wednesday there are reports of "large movements of civilians" in the Bentiu area.

South Sudan areas of conflict and areas that are rebel-heldSouth Sudan areas of conflict and areas that are rebel-held
x
South Sudan areas of conflict and areas that are rebel-held
South Sudan areas of conflict and areas that are rebel-held
Maurer also met with internally displaced people in Awerial, in Lakes state, and said he was "particularly struck by one woman who had to flee her home with no belongings, and now her family needs substantial support across the spectrum, including food, water, shelter and medical care."

French medical charity Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) said Wednesday some 75,000 people have sought refuge in Awerial, a town which is usually home to around 10,000. Most of the diplaced are women and children, MSF said.

With the ICRC having already spent a third of the 65 million Swiss Francs it had budgeted for South Sudan this year, Maurer called on "the international community to boost its financial support" to the organization to allow it to continue its humanitarian activities in the strife-torn nation.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid