News / Africa

Heavy Fighting in South Sudan Oil State

  • Members of the South Sudan rebel delegation attend the opening ceremony of South Sudan's peace negotiations, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, January 4, 2014.
  • Taban Deng Gai, left, head of the rebel delegation and South Sudan's leader of the government delegation, Nhial Deng Nhial, attend the opening ceremony of South Sudan's peace negotiations, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, January 4, 2014.
  • Unidentified members of the delegation from the South Sudan government and western observers meet at the Sheraton Hotel, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, January 4, 2014.
  • A displaced mother and her baby, one of the few to have a mosquito net, wake up at a refugee camp, Awerial, South Sudan, Jan. 2, 2014.
  • A young displaced girl carries a bucket of water back to her makeshift shelter at a United Nations compound. The compound has become home to thousands of people displaced by the recent fighting, Juba, South Sudan, Dec. 31, 2013.
  • Displaced people gather inside a mosquito net tent as they flee from the fighting between the South Sudanese army and rebels in Bor town, in Juba, South Sudan, Dec. 30, 2013.
  • A displaced woman hangs up laundry on the plastic sheeting wall of a latrine at a United Nations compound, Juba, South Sudan, Dec. 31, 2013.
  • Yared, 2, is held by his mother, Madhn, who fled from the town of Bor a few days ago. She receives medicine for her child at a Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) medical tent, at a United Nations compound, Juba, South Sudan, Dec. 31, 2013.
  • A young displaced boy rests on the wheel arch of a water truck while others fill containers from it, at a United Nations compound, Juba, South Africa, Dec. 31, 2013.
  • A family makes tea outside their makeshift shelter at a United Nations compound, Juba, South Sudan, Dec. 31, 2013.
  • A general view of a camp for displaced people set up in a United Nations compound in Bor, South Sudan, Dec. 25, 2013.
  • South Sudan army soldiers hold their weapons as they ride on a truck in Bor, Dec. 25, 2013.
Violence in South Sudan
Andrew Green
Thousands of people have sought shelter at the United Nations base in Malakal, the capital  capital of oil-rich Upper Nile state in South Sudan, and scores have been treated for wounds sustained in four days of heavy fighting in the town, aid agencies and the United Nations said Friday.

“Over the last couple of days there has been sustained fighting. The team noticed an escalation in fighting on the 25th,” Doctors Without Borders (MSF) Head of Mission Michael White said.

Seventy patients have arrived at Malakal Teaching Hospital with gunshot wounds since Tuesday, he said.

MSF is  working with local health officials to provide treatment to as many people as possible and plans to stay in Malakal for as long as its workers are not in danger, White said.

"Before this recent crisis, the health needs in South Sudan were already very large. Certainly, over the last week, they’ve become immense. Our biggest concern right now is being able to operate with our surgical teams in an environment that’s safe for our teams to work,” he said. 

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said around 12,000 people have sought shelter at their base in Malakal, and many of the civilians inside the base "have been injured by stray bullets during clashes" on Thursday.

Army spokesman Philip Aguer earlier this week acknowledged that government troops have been battling rebels in Malakal.

He told Reuters news agency that he expects government forces to regain control of the town by the end of the week. VOA has been unable to reach Aguer for comment Friday.

Oil fields in Upper Nile State are responsible for nearly 85 percent of the country’s petroleum production. Officials in the country’s other oil-producing state, Unity, have said that production in oil fields there was halted  this week after foreign workers, who are key to South Sudan's oil industry, fled the area.

Fighting broke out in Juba 12 days ago and rapidly spread to around half of South Sudan's 10 states. The government said the clashes in Juba on Dec. 15 were a coup bid launched by former Vice President Riek Machar, but Machar has denied he had orchestrated an attempt to oust Kiir.

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