By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
July 16, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – A group of community leaders from South Sudan’s Jonglei state have appealed on the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) to relocate displaced people sheltered at the UN camp in Bor.
- Civilians fleeing violence seek refuge at the UNMISS compound in the capital of South Sudan’s Jonglei state, Bor, following the eruption of violence on 15 December 2013 (AP)
In a letter of request written to UNMISS in Bor, the community leaders accused the UN body of failing to protect refugees who have been sheltering at the UN camp since conflict erupted in mid-December last year, forcing a split in the ruling SPLM.
Some 13 community leaders, including community chair William Tut Diit, have demanded that displaced people be relocated from Bor to Akobo county where their safety can be guaranteed.
According to the statement, a copy of which was obtained by Sudan Tribune, the request was being made in response to an incident on 17 April in which 145 displaced civilians were killed and 275 wounded after government forces SPLA) and armed community elements attacked the camp.
The attack is described in the statement as “barbarian and brutal”.
The community leaders, who are themselves displaced, said there is a growing climate of fear at the camp due the possibility of similar attacks by the SPLA and other pro-government militias.
The statement also accuses the government of neglecting its duty of care to displaced civilians, citing its failure to send injured civilians for specialised medical care in the capital, Juba, and its refusal to pay the salaries of state government employees who are sheltering at the UNMISS camp in Bor.
They have further accused the SPLA of organising activities to prevent the supply of food and other necessary items into the camp.
Displaced civilians being housed at the Bor camp are said to have been confined to the compound since 18 December 2013.
The letter also listed the names of 52 people who the community leaders allege were killed by members of the Dinka community inside the Bor compound.
Puoch Riek Deng, a public relations officer from the South Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Agency (SSRRA) in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, told Sudan Tribune that the refugees at the camps are suffering severe trauma.
He has called for displaced civilians to be transferred to Ethiopia, Uganda or other safe zones inside South Sudan.
“Their relatives and family members were killed on their very watch,” he said, accusing the government of UN camps as prisons for those displaced by the ongoing conflict.