Displaced people who fled the recent fighting between government and rebel forces in Bor by boat across the White Nile bathe and gather water from the Nile in the town of Awerial, South Sudan, Jan. 1, 2014. Ben Curtis/AP/File
Bor, South Sudan – Adhieu Makuach waits with her three children atop a pile of suitcases and mattresses on the banks of the White Nile that traverses this strategic town.
Bor has been the epicenter of bitter fighting between the Army and rebels in a civil conflict that appears increasingly intractable. The Army finally won, but not before Bor was flattened.
Ms. Makuach is hoping to board a boat to a refugee camp. For days, loudspeaker messages from a government truck driving up and down the bank have urged people like her to stay. But Makuach wants out, in case the bullets start flying again.
“We’re afraid of the rebels,” she says. “We don’t know if [they] will come or go.”
That civilians such as Makuach are still fleeing for their lives 10 weeks into South Sudan’s brutal conflict, even now that Bor has become a heavily armed garrison for the Army, shows that military gains are fragile and not trusted by ordinary people, analysts say. A few returnees are trying to rebuild. But many coming out of the bush and seeing the destruction of their homes, leave directly for camps. Read more…
Displaced people do their daily chores such as bathing, washing clothes, cooking, and fetching water at a United Nations compound which has become home to thousands of people displaced by the recent fighting, in the capital Juba, South Sudan, Dec. 29, 2013. Ben Curtis/AP/File
Juba, South Sudan — The two UN compounds in South Sudan‘s capital Juba each host a crowded camp of humanity – refugees from 10 weeks of war. As fighting continues despite a flimsy ceasefire signed in Addis Ababa, these camps, or others like them around the country, are places to hear stories of the conflict.
Yet if one didn’t visit these two camps, it would be hard to know that this is the capital of a country at war with itself. Traffic flows serenely. Shops are open and busy – and the only sign of unrest is an 11 p.m curfew.
Indeed, in a visit to the UN compound known as Tomping, which abuts the Juba airport, UN staff in sweatsuits jog in the early morning past long rows of gray air-conditioned offices; at noon, diplomats and peacekeepers eat nice lunches and check emails on Wi-Fi in a wood paneled restaurant.
Yet a few surreal steps away, in what is another world, some 27,000 people are crammed into makeshift shelters set so close together there is often no space to walk between. Some shelters are built beneath old airplane staircases, and others are made of tarps tied to abandoned trucks. People camp next to clogged and smelly drainage canals. Unless they brought a bed frame, everyone sleeps on a ground of hard-packed dust. Read more…
South Sudanese children displaced by the fighting are seen in a camp for displaced persons in the UNMISS compound in Tongping in Juba, South Sudan, February 19, 2014. Andreea Campeanu/Reuters
Juba, South Sudan South Sudan‘s army today vowed to retake the contested town of Malakal, days after rebels launched their own assault on the battered riverside city, defying a month-old ceasefire agreement.
The new fighting around Malakal is the worst violence yet since the ceasefire was signed and underscores the difficulty of reaching a political solution to the conflict amid stop-start negotiations in neighboring Ethiopia.
Opposition forces loyal to former vice president Riek Machar attacked Malakal, the capital of oil-rich Upper Nile State, on Tuesday morning with mortars, and light and heavy arms. Shelling continued Wednesday, and a UN spokesperson said sporadic small-arms fire was heard Thursday.
Malakal has changed hands several times since the conflict began in December, and analysts say the new fighting is reminiscent of earlier hostilities when the government and rebels sought to gain advantage while peace talks slowly took shape. Over 500 homes in Malakal have been destroyed, according to a satellite survey. Read more…
A boy, who was with fellow Muslims detained by police from a raid at the Musa mosque, climb in a cell as the men wait to be arraigned at a court in Shanzu, a coastal town of Mombasa February 3, 2014. Joseph Okanga/Reuter
Early this month more than 100 young Muslims in this port city gathered at the Musa Mosque for what was billed as a regional Islamic conference. The meeting had been banned by police, who say the mosque has ties to the Somali militant group Al Shabab. But the organizers went ahead anyway.
By early afternoon on Feb. 2, Musa was full of people, including dozens of neighborhood children drawn by a free lunch.
What followed next is unclear: Police say they tried to arrest mosque leaders and came under gunfire. Muslim activists say the police stormed the mosque unprovoked.
However it started, police stormed the religious structure with boots on and began firing tear gas and live bullets at youth, some of whom fought back with knives. After a melee that captured national attention, police arrested 129 people, including 21 minors, some only 12 years old. Dozens were injured, and rioting continued for days as wounded succumbed to injuries. By Feb. 6, seven Muslims and one police officer lay dead. Read more…
A police officer removes a flag hanged by Muslim youths at Musa Mosque in the coastal town of Mombasa February 2, 2014. Joseph Okanga/Reuters
Mombasa, Kenya Kenya’s new “war on terror,” inaugurated after radical jihadis attacked a swanky Nairobi shopping mall last fall, has rocked the nation, the Muslim community, and the nation’s security forces.
Since then a major police and military focus has been on the coastal city of Mombasa, and on its gritty working-class district called Majengo that features open-air welders and tin-roofed auto shops. Read more…
Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) government soldiers wear UNICEF backpacks as they walk along a road in Mathiang near Bor on January 31, 2014. The armed government troops had stolen the UNICEF supplies intended for schoolchildren. Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images
In South Sudan, a cease-fire is supposed to be in force. But rebels are openly claiming to still be fighting, while independent satellite images of the torching of rebel leader Riek Machar‘s hometown of Leer confirm that government forces are also engaged in battle. Read more…
Photo credit: shankar s via Flickr
How do dozens of competing private bus companies keep a city’s public transportation system running without any formal planning? With a lot of success, it turns out. That’s according to a new map of Nairobi’s infamous matatu minibus system released last week. Read more…