Home | News    Wednesday 12 March 2014

Eritreans in Bor threatened, shops looted as Jonglei locals accuse Asmara of backing rebels


March 9, 14 (BOR/LONDON) - As the dust settles on the tumultuous three months for residents of Bor, the capital of Jonglei state, which has been at the heart of rebellion against the government, people are beginning to count the economic as well as the personal cost of the conflict.

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Shops allegedly torched by rebels are pictured in Bor, capial of Jonglei state, on January 19, 2014 (Photo AFP /Waakhe Simon Wudu)

On Monday an Ethiopian trader, who has been operating in Jonglei state since 2011, told Sudan Tribune said that 300,000 South Sudanese pounds (around $103,000) was stolen from his shop on 30 December 2013, just two weeks after fighting begin in the capital Juba.

Daniel Merhawi Debesay, who is Eritrean by birth but holds an Ethiopian passport, says he also lost produce, including beer and soft drinks worth, around 668,000 SSP ($229,370)

The drinks seller said that he had felt at home in South Sudan but now fears that his shop may have been targeted because of his nationality. Many South Sudanese in Bor believe rumours that Eritrea may be backing the rebel movement led by South Sudan’s former Vice President Riek Machar.

When fighting began between members of the South Sudanese armed forced on 15 December last year, the government accused Machar and many others who had become increasingly opposed to President Salva Kiir of attempting to stage a coup.

Machar denies this but has assumed control of a loose coalition of defected soldiers and armed civilians who have control of much of Jonglei and Upper Nile as well as parts of Unity state.

Debesay ran to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) compound in Bor with his wife and brother when the war reached its peak in Bor, leaving behind everything in his shop.

The state capital has changed hands four times since the conflict, which has killed an estimated 10,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands, began.

"They came running, shooting people. I saw a lot of people killed here, I ran to UNMISS. It was on that day that they looted my shop, took all the crates I had in stock. They took the money also, 300,000 [South Sudanese] pounds", Debesay told Sudan Tribune.

It was the saddest moment in his life, he said, and had a serious psychological affect on his brother, who sheltered in the UN compound with him until the town was retaken by the South Sudanese army (SPLA).

"He became sick, complaining of headache and after few days, he became like a mad man. He is now under treatment in Uganda, Kampala", he said.

Friends had helped him by paying for his medication in Uganda.

Debesay has now received a loan of 15,000 pounds from the Ethiopian and Eritrean business community in South Sudan’s capital Juba to restart his drinks business.

The trader, who spent two months in the UN compound said he saw many of the items looted from Bor market being exchanged between displaced people in the camp, including mattresses, phones, soft drinks and water.


Debesay, who is an Eritrean by origin says that he and his wife have been threatened over the last week by local people in Bor who claim Eritrea is aiding Machar’s rebels by providing them with arms and ammunition.

Claudio Gramizzi, an independent researcher with extensive knowledge of arms trafficking in the region said he was not aware of any evidence that Eritrea was providing weapons to the SPLM/A in Opposition, despite the rumours that have circulated over the past two weeks.

The lack of evidence has not stopped people taking their anger out on expatriates like Debesay.

"I came to Bor again because other places are not good for business because of congestion and the distance factors. But now the people who knew me as an Eritrean threatened me. I will inform the police about so that I can get help immediately", Debesay said.

Throughout much the civil war against Khartoum that lasted for over two decades the SPLA - then a rebel group rather than a national army for independent South Sudan - had quite good connections with Asmara.

Gramizzi, told Sudan Tribune in an email: "This goes back into history, but some networks survive in time even when the major political frameworks evolve. Eritreans are in Juba (they own a couple of hotels and some businessmen operating in South Sudan are quite well connected with the regime in their home country), but I never heard about them being involved in supporting armed actors."

Over the last five years Khartoum and Asmara have improved their relationship and stopped backing rebels in the others territory. This is a marked changed since before the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, when the Eritrean capital was home to several armed groups operating in Sudan, including Darfuri rebels.

From a geopolitical perspective Eritrea arming the South Sudanese rebels would not make much sense, Gramizzi said, but added that it was not impossible.

"If there is some support – it is small volume and channelled through personal connections and they don’t really reflect a governmental position."

The Eritrean government do not have many reasons to put the Sudanese government in Khartoum in a difficult position by supporting Machar, according to Gramizzi, adding they also have no real reasons to oppose Salva Kiir’s government.

"Sometimes, however, [the Eritrean government’s] geopolitical stand simply emerge[s] from their willingness to annoy Ethiopia" Gramizzi notes.

So far the conflict has, publicly at least, brought Khartoum and Juba closer together as they both need to keep South Sudan’s oil exports flowing through the north to fuel their ailing economies.

However, the presence of Ugandan troops, deployed by Kampala initially to help secure Juba and the evacuation of their nationals but now openly fighting the rebels alongside the SPLA, has angered Sudan and their continued presence could raise tensions especially considering their proximity to the oil fields in Unity and Upper Nile.


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Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.
  • 12 March 2014 06:12, by chol

    Eritrean and Ethiopians must go back to their countries to do businesses there.locals business people come
    First have you see any South Sudanese doing business in Eritrea besides we needs your high prices products.

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    • 12 March 2014 06:24, by Mi diit

      This idiotic and alcoholic so-called president Mrs. Akiir Museveni allows Ethiopians and Eritreans traders to be murdered by his gangs in Juba and Bor, yet he doesn’t have a single proof that they support the rebels, while the rebels don’t kill Ugandans for their support to the government despite the full evidences. Soon Juba will face Ethiopia and Eritrea over this condoned cold blood murders.

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      • 12 March 2014 06:57, by mathem jech amer

        Eitrea has opened training centres for Nuers, one inside Eritrea and one at the border between South Sudan and Ethiopia, currently there are about 5,000 trainees and more are arriving everyday from Gambela.Some Eritrea military are now in Nassir and Longechul,so let all Eritrean go to Nuer land to operate there rather than in Juba and other places

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        • 12 March 2014 07:16, by Moc Nyickedenloi

          mathem jech amer,
          Just wait brother, can u belive that Bor alone has more than 17,000
          now in the field being trained go to Bhar el Ghazel Aweil has 19,000
          E.Equator has 8000 many others. when pple are in peace, thugs r stabbing at the back now its time for war. U know what the first SPLA’s ’12000 from Bor only’ did to Arabs now it is 17000, let wait and we see where pple ll defecate from.

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          • 12 March 2014 07:23, by Moc Nyickedenloi

            No more running to the UNIMISS compound b,se unimiss is struggling for its survival in S.Sudan pple are going to be fucked and fucked and fucked. I hear them complaining that the war was imposed on them, b,se only 3months in the bush and they are tired of being bitten by mosquitoes. Go away Dinkas spent 50yrs in the Bush. men gone are those days when u rebeled in order to be promoted.

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        • 12 March 2014 10:22, by wang

          mathem jech amer
          The whole greater upper Nile region is a Nuerland. You Dinka are alien in this region.

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          • 12 March 2014 11:50, by mathem jech amer

            The whole Upper Nile region is called Cholo Kingdom, if you know nothing about it, read the history. Nuer are just abandoned sons of Dinkas who quarrelled over meat, which is still their greatest problem up to now.

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      • 12 March 2014 07:05, by Moc Nyickedenloi

        Mi Ngooth Amok,(mi dit)
        can u behave when it comes to issues to do with Bor citizens, Don’t u know that we r not robbers like u Nuers and Bhar el Ghazelians who like looting and killing.
        The Eritrean man have heard of compensation and he wants to be compensated as well ’peny amok, let him go to Riek or else we will kill them. we don’t want any dirt mouth in our land this time including Nuers.

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    • 12 March 2014 07:20, by Kiir

      Dear International community. Now President Salva Kiir has open another targeting of foreigners in S. Sudan to be kills. As you know there are Ugandan and Darfurian of Sudan nationals in rebel held areas no body attack them. Now Salva wants rebel to kills Darfurian of Sudan and Ugandan nationals? If not Salva must apologies to Eritreans national in S. Sudan and return the looted items to them.

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      • 12 March 2014 07:32, by Moc Nyickedenloi

        And u r calling yrself Kir,
        To hell with u guys. who is killing Darfurians or u want them to stop fucking Nuers on the other side that is y u want to divert their attention. Darfurians r wise man. make aloud cry to that international com of yrs or else we will fuck u until u surrender to Beny kir, forget about following disaster Riek all the time that is the solution.

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    • 12 March 2014 08:10, by Mayom County Boy

      please tell Eteria & Ethoipia that Dinka are thefts since they were
      born.let your fellow friendly skip from dinka territory,if not they get
      lose from thier goods benifits.

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    • 12 March 2014 12:20, by Bentiu son

      Dinka Bor Gok are really womanizer goons.Why are targeting Eritrean n Ethiopian nationals in South Sudan in vain? Don’t you know that 85% of Jonglei State population are Nuer tribe or what message do you really want to convey cowards? Yes,it is now obvious that Dinkas in general became lies manufacturers,coldblooded murderers,crooks,traitors n selfish mongrels.Don’t not wake sleeping lions boys

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  • 12 March 2014 06:57, by Moc Nyickedenloi

    who reported this article without mentioning his/her names? Is there any hand of the Bor citizens in that matter? How many shops were looted in Bor? Is this Eritrean man and the writer instant like he said? How could his shop be spared when the whole town was burned down by the rebels. Guys we have joint the army now in thousands as usual but we will see were u will defecate this time.

    repondre message

    • 12 March 2014 09:31, by Mi diit

      Some people who call themselves majority yet they cry to Uganda army to rescue them and fight for them against the Nuer. Even if you train a million people, you will run to Nuer and continue to call for more armies from Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, etc, to rescue your million lazy fighters.

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      • 12 March 2014 10:45, by wacjak

        Midit, the whole of Ghazal N Equatoria are enjoying life. They know nothing of the suffering you people are undergoing in Greater Upper Nile. You want to cause problem to them? Isn’t that problem you are in enough to invite these people to war. This is not about Dinka vs Nuer ya idiot, it is about the govt and rebels which happened to be one tribe. The fact that you kill Dinka is foolhardiness.

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        • 12 March 2014 11:40, by Malakal county Simon

          Idiot wacjak why then the failed government killed those Nuer civilians in Juba who have no political affiliation with Dr Machar? If it was not ethnic war as you claimed!!!!

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          • 12 March 2014 11:43, by Malakal county Simon

            Do not push both Ethiopia and Eritrea, or you will regret later....

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      • 12 March 2014 19:01, by Rommel

        Mi diit:
        You mean like the way that you cried for assistance from Khartoum for decades!? Rwandans, Kenyans and Burundi are currently not involved in any combat operations.

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        • 12 March 2014 19:02, by Rommel

          Are you really going to pretend that your people did not establish and nurture a military alliance with Khartoum during the war!? Do you recall the decades in which you defended oilfields on behalf of the Arab oligarchy... like dogs!?

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          • 12 March 2014 19:02, by Rommel

            Do you recall how you were so desperately reliant upon their weapons, ammunition, supplies, logistical support and food relief? Do you recall the military engagements that you executed in tandem with Khartoum against us!? The Ugandans have thus far only provided and deployed three [3] to four [4] battalions in South Sudan...

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            • 12 March 2014 19:03, by Rommel

              .. That’s a drop in the ocean when compared with what Khartoum did for you. The Dinka had to contend with an enemy [your erstwhile ally], that was well furnished with a palette of destructive weaponry and over 100, 000 men, accompanied by bombers, jets, and helicopter gunships...

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              • 12 March 2014 19:03, by Rommel

                .. And tens of thousands of aligned militiamen — the PDF and the Murahaleen, and tens of thousands of Khartoum compliant Nuer militiamen. I don’t want foreign intervention of any kind, but if you’re going to condemn people and bespatter them with smug charges of cowardice... know that we too can dredge up your documented history of forming alliances with Khartoum.

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                • 12 March 2014 19:04, by Rommel

                  You formed military alliances with Khartoum during the war; alliances that targeted and absolutely devastated the Dinka!? Why is it that you people feel no shame for this!? Ah, I get it, the Nuer are entitled to establish military alliances with Khartoum... but you want to condemn the Dinka for establishing a military alliance with a State that actually didn’t murder millions of Southerners!

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                  • 12 March 2014 19:04, by Rommel

                    The Arabs brought entire divisions to bear against the Dinka. The Arabs fought beside you. The Arabs fed you. The Arabs gave you weapons, ammunition and logistical support. Why are you people wholly unwilling to discuss your previous alliance with Khartoum!? You people are hypocrites!

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                    • 12 March 2014 19:05, by Rommel

                      When Khartoum’s aircraft bombed the Dinka for thirteen [13] years following your defection, operating in tandem with your militias on the ground... Was that not cowardice!? Well, wasn’t it!? Or do you suppose that you are entitled to an exemption from the demands of a moral code that you don’t actually prescribe to!?

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                      • 12 March 2014 19:05, by Rommel

                        Allow me to cite for you the work of a historian:
                        Throughout the fighting, not one war casualty was admitted to the Nasir hospital. Riek’s troops sat idle as Khartoum pushed back the Dinka. The results of Riek’’s sell-out to Khartoum could not have been more glaring. The Dinka suffered mightily. (Me Against My Brother: At War in Somalia, Sudan and Rwanda, Scott Peterson)

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