Refugees arrive by boat at the village of Mingkamen on the banks of the White Nile River
Refugees arrive by boat at the village of Mingkamen on the banks of the White Nile River

NIMULE - Civilians have fled Duk County in South Sudan's biggest state, Jonglei, by the tens of thousands as fighting continues in the young country five weeks after a ceasefire agreement was signed.

Duk County Commissioner Elijah Mocnom,  one of the newly displaced from the rural area 200 kilometers (120 miles) north of the state capital, Bor, said 60,000 people are "running" from violence and enduring deplorable and dangerous conditions as they flee.

Mocnom said he had heard reports that towns and villages in the county have continued to empty out since he fled on Tuesday. He said armed men attacked at least three villages, setting homes on fire and destroying government buildings and schools.

"There is no food and there is no medicine, because the clinic of Duk Payuel is already destroyed," he said.

Army, Rebels Deny Responsibility

Spokesmen for the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and anti-government forces both denied that fighters from their side were responsible for the attacks.

Dau Akoi Jurkuch, the Commissioner of Twic East County, which lies to the south of Duk, said more and more people are arriving fby the day, most of them carrying only the few small items they could scrabble together.

Many of the  displaced are hungry and in need of aid, but there is little available.

The United Nations estimates nearly 900,000 people have been displaced since fighting began in mid-December, including 129,300 in Jonglei state.

South Sudan Red Cross Communications Officer Madit Magot said many of those fleeing Jonglei have crossed the White Nile River into Mingkamen in neighboring Lakes State, where more than 70,000 internally dispaced persons have gathered. 

People displaced by the fighting in Bor county, st
People displaced by the fighting in Bor county, stand by their belongings after arriving in the port of Minkamen, in Awerial county, Lakes state, in South Sudan, Jan. 14, 2014.

“In Bor, here, still there is phobia and these people, when they come, they get nobody inside Bor here. There is nothing that can make them stay,” he said.

Magot said aid agencies are scrambling to provide food, clean water and shelter to the thousands of people who have fled to  Mingkamen.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has called for $1.27 billion to help those in need in South Sudan, but donors have so far only funded 20 percent of that amount.