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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid