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

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 Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid