Home | News    Saturday 11 January 2014

Medical facilities looted in Bentiu as rebels withdraw

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January 11, 2014 (JUBA/BENTIU) - One of the last remaining humanitarian organisations working in South Sudan’s Unity state said on Friday that their facilities in Bentiu have been looted.

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South Sudanese soldiers listen during a briefing at the army general headquarters in Juba, January 8, 2014. (Photo Reuters/James Akena)

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said in a statement that the looting jeopardizes the charity’s operations in the area and endangers their ability to respond to the ongoing violence.

MSF staff have been forced to relocate to Leer town on Wednesday due to the deteriorating security situation. Thousands of people are deprived of healthcare in Bentiu, MSF said, warning that an estimated 10,000 displaced people are moving towards Leer.

South Sudan’s army (SPLA) retook Bentiu from rebels on Friday, three weeks after James Koang, who was the commander army in Unity state, began a rebellion on December 20.

Large parts of the army had already defected in Jonglei state following clashes between members of the military in the South Sudanese capital Juba, during which civilians were targetted.

Arjan Hehenkamp, MSF General Director sad that it was "unacceptable that one of the only humanitarian organizations still providing assistance to the population in Bentiu has been looted.”

The medical charity is calling "on all parties to this conflict to respect the integrity of medical facilities grant access to affected communities and allow patients to reach medical facilities irrespective of their origin and ethnicity”.

Since fighting broke out between members of the Presidential Guard on December 15 the conflict spread to Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile states, which all have significant populations from the Nuer ethnic group, some of whom are alleged to have been targetted during the first few days of fighting Juba.

Reprisal attacks have taken place against members of the Dinka ethnic group, leading to community leaders asking for the 8,000 people sheltering at the United Nations base in Bentiu to be divided along ethnic lines.

Although some of the violence has been along ethnic lines the conflict is a political one between President Salva Kiir, a Dinka, and Riek Machar, a Nuer who he sacked in July last year along many other senior figures.

Many senior Nuer have sided with Kiir, while Machar is backed by senior Dinka figures in the ruling SPLM and politicians from South Sudan’s many other tribes have not taken sides largely based on political rather than tribal allegiances.

Kiir’s opponents accuse him of using the flare up in the military last month in Juba to silence his increasingly vocal critics, who accuse him of "dictatorial tendencies".

Over 1,000 people are believed to have died and around 200,000 people displaced by the conflict.

MSF said that prior to the crisis the organisation was providing TB, HIV and nutrition care to the local community but it is now focusing on giving post-operative care to the wounded as well as primary healthcare for those who have sought shelter at the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) base in Bentiu.

Raphael Georgeu, MSF’s Head of Mission in South Sudan . “MSF won’t be able to resume its much-needed operations in Bentiu until the security of our patients, staff and facilities is guaranteed."

"Thousands of people have fled the city, leaving at the last minute with nothing. We are doing our best to assess if they have access to water, food, and medical care on the road from Bentiu to Leer and are gearing up to provide assistance to those who need it most".

South Sudan’s army said on Friday that 15 tanks and number of heavy weapons were seized when the forces loyal to President Kiir retook Bentiu.

Philip Aguer, the SPLA’s spokesperson said that James Koang and the forces loyal him have fled the town destroying ammunition as they retreated.

Aguer has called upon all soldiers from various army units to mobilise within the next 24 hours for a renewed assault on Bor, the capital of Jonglei state which is also occupied by forces that have defected.

South Sudan’s defense minister Kuol Manyang Juuk said that Bor - which has changed hand three times since the conflict began - would soon be reclaimed.

James Wani Igga, South Sudan’s Vice President also said on Friday that Bor would be retaken and "stability will be restored".

(ST)

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  • 11 January 05:32, by omoni jr.

    it is just like what they did in Bor before gallantry freedom fighters take it back.
    Lets wait , you will hear different story soon. And U.S is also preparing to sanction black insect called kiir.

    repondre message

    • 11 January 06:19, by Gabriel KK

      You captured Bor first, loot and kill civilians and now you have done it again in your own City. what a shame!! Anyway that is what you are looking for to do in Juba if you succeed. You don’t have a sense of leadership and that is the main reason as to why people to trust you simply becuase you are fighting this war with the objectives of lootings and killings but not to bring any changes.

      repondre message

      • 11 January 11:14, by Johndumo14

        This is a very bad news for Riek Machar,the people whom he sent to Addis Ababa for peace talks,where will they go after the peace talks? Bentiu is no longer in their hands,will they join Riek Machar in the Bush,from Juba to the bush again,you guys have made poor choices in life.See how distroyed your commonities,Iam sure some nuer generals in rebells army will kill Riek Machar,it is a death end.

        repondre message

    • 11 January 08:11, by mathem jech amer

      omoni jr.
      Nuer purpose of fighting is not leadership but looting and to get many properties and resources.If you need leadership, why do you destroy infrastructure for your country, who do you loot shops, offices,houses,clothes and destroying your own states, that shows you are there to destroy,loot,to become rich in one day, that is all.

      repondre message

  • 11 January 05:43, by Hardlinner

    is this the kind of leadership riek want implement in south sudan?. why would his forces loots civilians market and medical sen frontier warehouse. I thank the SPLA force for liberating bentiu from army of destruction. civilians should be out of this political mess.

    repondre message

    • 11 January 06:09, by omoni jr.

      Hardliner.
      "civilians should be out of this political mess"
      Are you kidding? the first bullet shot by Dinka gangs was directed to Nuer civilians in Juba,on december 15,2013.
      Now you talk like someone who do not have civilians blood in the hands.

      repondre message

  • 11 January 07:09, by Majongdit

    Kim Deng,
    You used to be a good lady, why have you become so tribal when you used to have a Dinka boyfriend?
    The Dinka have not launched any war on the Nuer. Don’t push for a tribal fight, it will be so dangerous for you and your people.

    repondre message

  • 11 January 07:25, by Marco Bul

    That is their nature.I’m not surprise.

    repondre message

  • 11 January 08:58, by George Bol

    We should not surprise why Naath/Nuer they are called food lovers, nyagats, traitors, primitive, shallow minded, cattle raiders, rebels, and power greedy-the names goes. The above characteristics can not be found for someone who should lead.
    100years for naath to learn from good or bad!

    repondre message

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