Tag Archives: Bentiu

As S. Sudan’s rainy season ends, more aid for the displaced – but more fighting

For the past six months, South Sudan’s rainy season brought misery to the nearly 2 million civilians displaced by the 10-month civil war. In crowded United Nations camps, tens of thousands lived ankle-deep in latrine overflow; and for those in the countryside, survival meant eating water lilies and drinking from rivers as the land transformed into marshy islands.

The rains are petering out, and should cease this month. But the change in weather hardly means respite: The end of the wet season means the start of the fighting season. Read more…

Photo: A rebel soldier patrols through a flooded area near the town of Bentiu, South Sudan on Sept. 20, 2014. Matthew Abbot/AP

Advertisements

Rape stands out starkly in S. Sudan war known for brutality

Many people are forced to sleep outside due to over crowding in Bentiu IDP camp, South Sudan Friday, July 4, 2014. Photo:  Matthew Abbot/AP

Every day, hundreds of women living at the United Nations base in Bentiu risk rape so they can feed their children.

Some 40,000 people shelter here from South Sudan‘s civil war, and there is not enough food or charcoal. The women of this camp have taken on the job of foraging for firewood and vegetables outside the perimeter – since men in the camp have been shot on sight by lurking local soldiers who suspect them of being militants.

But leaving the compound means the women walk into the same zone of conflict. While some UN workers are pushing to get simple food and firewood delivered, they also point out that donor aid is lagging.

“They can rape me or kill me,” says ‘Anne,’ who sells home-brewed alcohol to the soldiers outside, earning about $5 each time that she uses to buy milk and soup packets for her three children.  “But my children don’t have good food to eat so I have to go out.”  Read more…

UN refugees in S. Sudan face perfect storm of woe as war drags on

UN refugees in South Sudan carry goods through a waste canal in Bentiu camp, July 13. Photo by Jason Patinkin

When war broke out in South Sudan last December, the United Nations opened its bases to civilians fleeing the violence. That policy has saved tens if not hundreds of thousands of lives, and today more than 100,000 people shelter under peacekeepers’ protection.

But the UN bases are not meant to house large populations for long periods of time – and seven months later, the camps are proving untenable.

This situation is most dire in Bentiu, the capital of oil-producing Unity State, where more than 40,000 people shelter in the UN base in appalling conditions.

In Bentiu, three children under age 5 die every two days from preventable diseases, and more than 250 people have perished since May. Fights break out frequently in the cramped, politically charged quarters. Rains, lack of funds, and insecurity mean aid agencies can’t get supplies in fast enough. The camp is so poorly supplied that civilians must venture outside to forage for firewood, vegetables, or water, risking rape, abduction, and murder by waiting soldiers and mercenaries tied to different ethnic groups. Even the fortified base itself has come under their fire.

But with the war showing no signs of stopping, and UN peacekeepers delayed, civilians have no other option for safe haven in South Sudan.

“My children are sick, we’re living in the flooded area, there are mosquitoes, we are sleeping with no bed, the smell is awful,” says a mother of six named Angelina, whose 1-year-old daughter recently recovered from malnutrition and malaria.  “But if there is no peace, I can’t go out.”  Read more…

In South Sudan, strife looms in few peaceful places left

A woman grinds millet, near two tanks, while children watch in Leer, Unity State, South Sudan July 15, 2014. Andreea Campeanu/REUTERS

 

As South Sudan‘s civil war drags into a seventh month, President Salva Kiir faces new political and military challenges in parts of the young nation that until now were spared violence.

Violence flared again this week in the lucrative and powerful oil-producing states in the east and north, where bitter fighting raged this winter and spring. The new tensions threaten to expand what already seems an intractable conflict.

With peace talks in Ethiopia postponed indefinitely amid new rebel demands over who should participate, rebel and government forces engaged this week near Bentiu, the capital of Unity State, despite two cease-fires.

Meanwhile, a debate in the national capital of Juba over federal vs. state powers in South Sudan reached such a boiling point that the International Crisis Group, a well-known advocacy NGO, called for an emergency UN Security Council session. Read more…

South Sudan cease-fire blows up, days after the ink dries

A general view shows flood waters within the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) camp in Malakal, Upper Nile State, May 1, 2014. Drazen Jorgic/Reuters

By Jason PatinkinCorrespondent, Will DavisonCorrespondent / May 15, 2014

Malakal, South Sudan; and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — A cease-fire inked days ago between South Sudan’s warring leaders is falling apart, dimming hopes for a quick peace that is widely seen as needed to ensure that millions of civilians have access to basic humanitarian aid.

President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar agreed at a meeting last Friday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to end a brutal five-month civil war that has seen thousands killed and more than a million people displaced. The agreement was nearly identical to a previous cease-fire signed in January, which collapsed in days.

Now, with fighting reported hours after the cease-fire went into effect Saturday night, and continuing daily, it seems the new deal is faring almost as badly as its predecessor.  Read more…

South Sudan civil war: Rights reports slam both sides as leaders go to talks

South Sudan’s rebel leader Riek Machar smiles as he meets his friends at Sheraton Hotel in Addis Ababa May 9, 2014. South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir arrived on Friday in Ethiopia’s capital for the first face-to-face talks with Machar to try to end four months of conflict and avert a possible genocide. Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

Juba, South Sudan — In one of two much-anticipated human rights report released Thursday, the United Nations said both sides in South Sudan’s civil war have possibly committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, and called for international justice.

A striking feature of investigations on the brutal warfare in the world’s newest country is evidence of widespread use of sexual violence, including gang rape and forced abortion, by all parties.

The accusations come as South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar today traveled to Ethiopia for peace talks amid continued fighting.

“From the very outset of the violence, gross violations of human rights and serious violations of humanitarian law have occurred on a massive scale,” reads the UN report.  “Civilians were not only caught up in the violence, they were directly targeted, often along ethnic lines.”

The UN report came out on the same day as another damning investigation by advocacy group Amnesty International.  Both reports document shocking abuses by both the government and the rebels since the war began in mid- December.

The conflict emerged out of a power struggle between President Kiir and his former vice president, Mr. Machar, that widened largely along ethnic lines. Kiir is an ethnic Dinka, and Machar is a Nuer.  Thousands have been killed, and more than a million civilians have fled their homes.

Totaling 130 pages and based on more than 1,000 interviews with victims, witnesses, and others, the two reports present the most credible and comprehensive documentations of human rights violations since the conflict began.  Read more…

A South Sudan surprise: breakthrough on peace talks? Maybe.

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir (r.) chats with US Secretary of State John Kerry at the President’s Office in Juba, South Sudan, May 2. Saul Loeb/Pool/AP

Juba, South Sudan — Leaders of both sides of South Sudan’s bloody five-month civil conflict agreed Tuesday to go to Ethiopia for peace talks this Friday.

The announcement comes after a week of heavy diplomacy, with visits to South Sudan’s capital by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry, who threatened targeted economic sanctions against the belligerents. After months of a fruitless peace process, there are at least some tentative hopes now for a breakthrough.  Read more…