April 18, 2014 (KAMPALA) – Students from South Sudan’s Unity state currently studying in Kampala, Uganda have condemned Thursday’s attacks on civilians sheltered at the United Nations base in Bor, the capital of Jonglei state.
- Displaced people arrive in Lakes state’s Awerial after crossing by river barge from Jonglei capital Bor, where government and rebel forces are battling for control (Photo: Ben Curtis/AP)
Medical sources told Sudan Tribune that at least 30 people were killed during clashes between local youth demonstrators and peacekeepers from the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), while other sources say the numbers could be higher.
The clashes occurred in the morning when armed youth from Bor town opened fire on the UN compound where thousands of people displaced by the ongoing violence in the country have been sheltering since the conflict began in December.
William Malek Bol, the chairman of Unity state students studying at universities and colleges in Uganda says the killing of innocent civilians in Bor was a "barbaric" act.
Bol accused the South Sudanese government for being behind the bloody attack and alleged that officials mobilised the young men to attack the UN base in the same way they encouraged people to demonstrate against the UNMISS head, Hilde Johnson.
"Officials from Bor had a hidden agenda by allowing the armed youth to demonstrate near the UN compound," he claimed.
Bol said that residents’ demands for the people in the Bor camp to be relocated are meaningless and urged that those responsible be brought to justice.
A student study at Cavendish University, only identified as JJ, urged UNMISS to provide better protection for civilians, especially the displaced people.
"We know this will happen, but the United Nations must protect the lives of South Sudanese people who have been affected by the conflict. This is the first signal and they should act immediately to prevent more bloodshed”, said JJ.
He said that UNMISS should fulfill its mandate to protect civilians, warning that what happened in Bor could equally take place in other states of the country.
"If the UN does not strengthen its position to protect civilians, then I fear this may applied in others states in South Sudan”, added JJ
The killing of internal displace people in Bor town came after the government lost control of Bentiu, the capital of oil-producing Unity state on Tuesday.
There are reports that senior officials were angered by reports that the IDPs in the camp in Bor danced and celebrated the news that Bentiu had fallen back into the hands of rebels, led by South Sudan’s former vice president, Riek Machar.
Unity state, Machar birthplace, is predominately Nuer, while Jonglei has a more diverse population, including large Dinka and Nuer populations.
Although the conflict was triggered by a political power struggle within South Sudan’s ruling party (SPLM), there have been many reports of civilians being targeted because of their ethnicity since fighting began in Juba more than four months of ago.
Over 10,000 people are believed to have been killed and over one million displaced in the country’s worst-ever violence outbreak since its independence in July 2011.