March 3, 2014 (JUBA) – The United Nations said it saw large movements of opposition troops in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state capital around the airport and on the road to Nassir county, raising fresh fears of renewed tension in the oil-rich region.
- South Sudanese rebels pictured in Jonglei state on 31 January 2014 (Photo: Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)
Malakal, a strategic town about 497km north of Juba, has seen the worst outbreak of violence in the recent days, having changed hands four times between rebels and pro-government troops.
Both rival factions have accused each other of violating the cessation of hostilities agreement they signed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 23 January.
"The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) reports that it has seen large clouds of smoke from across the River Nile in the direction of Lelo Payam, in Malakal, in Upper Nile State,” said Martin Nesirky, a spokesperson for the Secretary General.
The mission said it assisted the South Sudan National Police Service in its operation to clear crowds involved in criminality near its Juba base, and check for weapons, other military items, and drugs that were increasing insecurity and attracting large numbers of internally displaced persons from within the UN House site.
Some 43, 324 civilians, according to the UN, are currently seeking protecting within is Juba base. However, as of 28 February, an estimated 75, 715 civilians were reportedly seeking protection within the eight UN bases in the country.
Over 10,000 people have died and nearly a million displaced after the violence that broke out in Juba in mid-December last year. An additional 190,000 people have reportedly fled the country to neighbouring Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenyan and Sudan.