January 23, 2014 (JUBA) – International Committee for the Red Cross officials in Juba on Thursday called for respect of medical and other humanitarian facilities in South Sudan’s conflict affected areas.
- Jacob Kurtzer of the International Committee of the Red Cros (ICRC) speaks to media in Juba on Thursday January 23, 2014 (ST)
In a press briefing at the ICRC office in Juba, Melker Mabeck, the head of the agency delegation in South Sudan, said the challenges are immense.
"South Sudan was already in a difficult situation" before the conflict began in mid-December, Mabeck said.
He refused to give a figure on the number of people who have been killed in the conflict, saying "it is a challenge to reach areas in South Sudan" due to security and mobility constraints.
The International Crisis Group research group estimates that 10,000 people may have died. Members of the South Sudanese parliament who visited Bor, the capital of Jonglei state, said that, based on reports from local leaders, around 2,500 people had died in the area, which has changed hands between rebels and the government four times since the conflict began.
South Sudan’s army (SPLA) is currently in control of the town after they retook it on 18 January. The SPLA has also regained control of Bentiu and Malakal - the state capitals of Unity and Upper Nile states respectively.
However, the rebels are still in control of some of the oil fields in Unity and Upper Nile. Oil production, which the government relies on for most of its income, has fallen from 240,000 barrels per day to around 200,000 bpd.
Over half a million people have been displaced by the fighting, according to the United Nations.
Mabeck said the ICRC is "exploring every possible option for bringing the aid to the people who need it and to care for the injured."
Jacob Kurtzer, a member of the ICRC, said staff have been deployed to help treating the injured from both sides of the conflict. He declined to give figures of the number of injured that are being treated.
Medical facilities have been looted in some of the key conflict zones including Bor and Malakal. Sudan Tribune has seen the bodies of over 30 people who were found shot and killed at Bor hospital during a visit earlier this week.