Thousands Killed in South Sudan, as Violence Spreads: UN
Posted by feww on December 25, 2013
Thousands of people have been killed since fighting began 10 days ago: UN OCHA
“I think it’s undeniable at this stage that there must have been thousands of people who have lost their lives.” Toby Lanzer, the senior UN humanitarian coordinator, told the BBC.
“When I’ve looked at the hospitals in key towns and I’ve looked at the hospitals in the capital itself, the range of injuries, this is no longer a situation where we can merely say it’s hundreds of people who’ve lost their lives.”
There are up to “hundreds of thousands,” of people seeking shelter from the fighting , he added, it’s been “a devastating week for South Sudan.”
Five out of 10 states in the country have been affected by the latest round of fighting, according to UN OCHA.
UN OCHA Situation report as of 23 December 2013
The following are highlights of the latest UN report on South Sudan crisis.
- The estimated number of people displaced by in the current crisis in South Sudan has risen to 81,000*. Given the limited access to civilians outside population centers, the number is likely to
be significantly higher.
- The response to people displaced in Juba is gaining momentum, with registration underway in UNMISS Tomping and food distributions ongoing in both sites.
- Priorities for the response to the displaced are food, healthcare, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene services and protection. [Preferably NOT in that order: Editor]
On 22-23 December, the security situation remained stable but tense in Juba. At least 20,000 people are still sheltering at the two main UNMISS bases in town. Registration began in UNMISS Tomping on 23 December, with 894 people registered on the first day. The registration is being done simultaneously with distributions of basic food rations and household kits. Preparations are underway for a similar registration exercise in UN House. The main concern in the sites, in particular in UNMISS Tomping, is currently the lack of sanitation and the risks it poses for disease outbreak such as cholera in the sites. Large numbers of people have been seen leaving the city, including towards Nimule on the border with Uganda. There are already reports that people have crossed into Kenya, Sudan and Uganda, and aid agencies are mobilizing to monitor these population flows more closely, to ensure that people are assisted where necessary.
The situation in Jonglei deteriorated further, with reported clashes between different armed factions south of Bor. At the peacekeeping base in Bor, an estimated 17,000 people are sheltering. As of 22 December, all international aid workers have been relocated from Bor to Juba, though the base is being reinforced with additional peacekeeping troops. Additional protective barriers have also been constructed around the base, including the area hosting the displaced civilians. There has been large-scale looting of humanitarian compounds and civilian property. Looting has also been reported in Akobo, Jonglei State, and in Bentiu and Koch County, Unity State.
The displaced people who had been sheltering at the UNMISS in Pibor have left [fled?] the base.
- The fighting, despite its complexity, is being portrayed as an “ethnic war” between the Dinka and Nuer. South Sudan President Kiir is of the Dinka ethnicity, while the rebel commander, the former vice-president Riek Machar, is an ethnic Nuer.
- Estimated 81,000 people have been displaced, since 15 December 2013
- 5 of 10 States in South Sudan are affected by current wave of violence (States affected by violence and main reported concentrations of people displaced, says OCHA)
- Estimated 45,000 people seeking refuge in UNMISS bases. (Includes reports of people in other locations not mapped. The total number of people displaced is likely higher, as aid agencies have very limited information about displacement outside main population centers.)
- The UN Security Council voted on Tuesday to increase its peacekeepers from 7,000 to 12,500, and its international police force from 900 to 1,323.
- Sudan was devastated by a 22-year civil war that left more than 1.5 million people dead prior to South Sudan becoming independent in 2011.
Mass Graves and Grave Abuses Committed Against Civilians
The UN High Commissioner for Human Chief Navi Pillay says a mass grave was found in the rebel-held town of Bentiu, and there were “reportedly at least two other mass graves” in the capital Juba.
“We have discovered a mass grave in Bentiu, in Unity State, and there are reportedly at least two other mass graves in Juba,” Ms Pillay said.
The situation is increasingly tense in Bentiu, with military mobilizations reported and sporadic fighting. Some 7,000 people are sheltering in the UNMISS base. Non-essential staff are being evacuated from Bentiu to Juba, in view of the deteriorating security situation, though essential staff remain to ensure response. Aid workers have also been pulled out of Yida and Ajoung Thok refugee sites.
In Bentiu, UNMISS peacekeeping troops remain in place. The situation is also fragile in Upper Nile State, where sporadic fighting has been reported in several locations in the past days. Protection of civilians, along with issues of lack of command and control of various armed groups, are serious concerns in all areas affected by fighting. There are credible reports of grave abuses committed against civilians in different parts of the country, including killings. Some of these abuses have reportedly been tied to the ethnic identity of the victims.
Related Links and Background
- 500 Killed, 20,000 Displaced in South Sudan Conflict December 18, 2013
- Hepatitis Outbreak Kills Many refugees in South Sudan February 4, 2013
- Sudan Declares State of Emergency along Border with South Sudan May 1, 2012
- Conflict and Famine in Sudan Create 2.2 M Refugees April 27, 2012