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

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    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.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    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 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.