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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs