News / Africa

US Begins Evacuating Citizens from South Sudan as Unrest Spreads

At Least 400 Dead in South Sudan Violencei
X
December 18, 2013 9:09 AM
Hospitals in South Sudan have told the United Nations that days of fighting in the country's capital have killed at least 400 people and wounded 800 others.
The United States began evacuating Americans from South Sudan Wednesday as fighting that has rattled Juba for three days spread to neighboring states.

Three groups of U.S. citizens were "safely and successfully evacuated" from South Sudan on board two U.S. military aircraft and a private charter flight, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.

Among those airlifted out of South Sudan were non-emergency staff from the embassy, Ajani Husbands, the public affairs officer at the U.S. embassy in Juba, told VOA News.

The British embassy has also evacuated personnel from South Sudan.

The evacuations come three days after gunbattles broke out in Juba in what President Salva Kiir has said was an attempted coup led by former Vice President Riek Machar.

UNMISS said more than 20,000 civilians have sought shelter at two U.N. compounds and the World Food Programme's compound in Juba.

U.N. officials said they are investigating reports that several hundred people have been killed or injured in the fighting, while the Red Cross has reported that more than 300 patients have been treated at two hospitals in Juba.

That marked a sharp uptick from the toll reported Tuesday, when Health Undersecretary, Dr. Makur Matur Kariom, said that medical staff at Juba Teaching Hospital have recorded 26 deaths caused by the violence in the capital.

  • 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.


While Juba was relatively calm Wednesday, officials in Jonglei state said the fighting has spread there.

Jonglei Deputy Governor Hussein Maar said clashes erupted overnight at two military barracks around 10 kilometers outside Bor, the state capital of Jonglei, triggering panic and sending hundreds of people fleeing to United Nations' facilities for protection.

"Because of that fighting, the local people here got scared that it will spill over to the town and people are running about in town," he said.

Six people were killed just outside Bor, but it was unclear if those deaths were related to the fighting, Maar said.

The U.N. Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said the fighting near Bor was heavy and lasted for four hours.

"The violence triggered an exodus of civilians out of Bor, and thousands have sought shelter at the Mission’s compound on the southeastern outskirts of the city," UNMISS said in a statement.

Kiir Open to Talks to End Violence


U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told a news conference that he has spoken to Kiir and "impressed on him the need to resume dialogue with the political opposition."

"I welcome the reports this morning that President Salva Kiir is willing to enter into such talks," the U.N. Secretary General said.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a speech given in the Philippines, where he is visiting the typhoon-ravaged city of Tacloban, that the people of South Sudan deserve better than a backwards step into violence.

"They have endured many years of conflict and sacrifice, far too much for their country to now go backwards and descend back into violence," Kerry said.

"Political differences need to be resolved by peaceful and democratic means, and those have been hard fought for. The government should respect the rule of law, and the people of South Sudan should be able to realize their full potential in peace," he said.

The U.S. State Department said Ambassador Susan Page "raised the arrests of several opposition members" when she met with Kiir on Wednesday.

Ten people have been arrested in connection with the violence, and five more, including Machar, are still at large, according to the South Sudan government's website.

Machar's whereabouts are still unknown, but he is reported to be in South Sudan.

Kiir fired Machar in July as part of a complete overhaul of his cabinet. Since then, Machar has been an outspoken critic of the president, accusing Kiir of having dictatorial tendencies.

But the former vice president has denied having anything to do with the unrest or with organizing an alleged coup.

Juba is still under a dusk to dawn curfew, with no indication as to when it will be lifted.

Most major land border crossings remained closed Wednesday, but the government ordered that the airport in Juba be reopened to commercial flights.

The U.S. embassy confirmed in a tweet that the airport had reopened but warned that there were "reports of multiple checkpoints" on the road leading to the airport.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact 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.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs