News / Africa

Thousands Flee S. Sudan Town as Government Troops Advance

  • 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

TEXT SIZE - +
VOA News
Thousands of civilians have fled a state capital in South Sudan, amid fears of new clashes between rebels and government soldiers.

U.N. humanitarian official Toby Lanzer visited Bentiu on Thursday.  In a series of Twitter messages, he said he saw "virtually no civilians" in the center of town, and that shops in Bentiu's main market have been looted and largely destroyed.


Reports from the area say army troops loyal to President Salva Kiir are advancing toward the town, which has been held for several weeks by rebels who support the president's rival, Riek Machar.

Peace talks between the sides in Ethiopia remained at an impasse, with the government again refusing to release 11 political detainees, as demanded by the rebels.

A rebel spokesman at the Addis Ababa talks used the stalemate Thursday to accuse Ugandan forces and gunships of attacking rebel positions. However, Uganda claims its military presence in South Sudan is limited to protecting its stranded countrymen.

For his part, the lead Sudanese government negotiator dismissed the rebel claims of Ugandan aerial attacks as "hostile propaganda."

In remarks to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the top U.S. diplomat for Africa, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said the U.S. is strongly urging a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

"This crisis will not be solved on the battlefield, and we have made that point over and over again," she said.  "Although fighting started less than one month ago, the roots of this conflict are much deeper, and resolution can only come from immediate dialogue between the two sides and a broader reconciliation."

A senior United Nations official warned Thursday that the death toll from recent fighting in South Sudan is likely to be “very substantially” in excess of the 1,000 deaths confirmed so far.  U.N. peacekeeping chief Hervé Ladsous told reporters that some 250,000 people in South Sudan have been displaced from the deadly fighting that erupted between rival political factions last month.

“As to the victims, so far we are not able to provide a final figure, but we do know that it will be very substantially in excess of the figure of 1,000 that we know for sure about,” he said.

Ladsous told reporters after briefing the U.N. Security Council that the additional 5,500 peacekeepers authorized by the council last month have begun arriving from other U.N. missions and should all be in place and operational within the next four to eight weeks.

“The priorities now for the U.N. are very clearly in this situation -- to focus on protection of civilians, on human rights, and on helping our humanitarian colleagues to access those populations in need,” he said.

The United Nations says more than 60,000 are sheltering on U.N. bases throughout the country, including 8,000 in Bentiu.

On Thursday, U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos said the U.N. is releasing $15 million to support relief efforts in South Sudan.  She said U.N. agencies will use the funds to improve living conditions of people stuck in overcrowded camps.

South Sudan's unrest began December 15 with fighting at an army headquarters in the capital, Juba.  President Kiir accused his former vice president, Machar, of a coup attempt.  

Many soldiers aligned themselves with Machar and seized control of Bentiu and the Jonglei state capital, Bor.  Heavy fighting has been reported this week in several parts of the country.

Witnesses say the recent violence has an ethnic component, with targeted attacks between supporters of Kiir, from the Dinka tribe, and Machar, who is from the Nuer community.

(VOA U.N. correspondent Margaret Besheer contributed to this report.)

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Abramiah Mponda from: Gauteng South Africa
January 09, 2014 11:36 AM
South Sudan Leaders are suffering from Historical Amnesia.They witnessed most African states like Somalia,DRC,CAR,Cote de voire suffering and teetering on the brink of Failed States or Utterly failed States.lts disappointing that they are killing the New Born Child South Sudan at infancy through a civil war that can be avoided.They must sit down and resolve matter amicably for the sake of the people,region and Africa as a whole.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid