Sat, Apr 29, 2017 - Page 6 News List

Thousands trapped by fighting in South Sudan

‘RISK OF DEATH’:Water trucks cannot reach Aburoc village, where about 40,000 people are sleeping in the open with no protection against malaria, a volunteer said

Thomson Reuters Foundation, NAIROBI

Tens of thousands of South Sudanese have fled their homes and are trapped under intense sun without food, water or medical care, aid agencies said on Thursday after fierce fighting forced them to pull out of the region.

About 40,000 people are camped out in temperatures of about 40°C in Aburoc village, near the border with Sudan, said Marcus Bachmann, South Sudan head of mission for the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF).

“The quantity of water is not enough to survive in this environment,” he told a news conference via Skype from the capital, Juba. “With so many people squeezed in one place, the risk of an outbreak of cholera is extremely high. It puts the exhausted population at highest risk of death.”

South Sudan in 2013 descended into civil war after South Sudanese President Salva Kiir fired his deputy, unleashing a conflict that has spawned armed factions which often follow ethnic lines.

The UN has raised fears of a possible genocide as millions have fled their homes, the economy is in a tailspin, harvests are devastated by drought and millions of people face famine.

A government offensive in two parts of Upper Nile state, near the border with Sudan, on Monday forced 32 humanitarian staff to be relocated to Juba, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.

The displaced population in and around Aburoc is likely to reach 50,000 in the coming days, it said in a statement, adding that people are also reported to be crossing into Sudan for safety.

“People fleeing ... to Aburoc are undertaking long and treacherous journeys — some travelling eight days by foot without access to water and food,” it said.

Water trucks could not reach Aburoc and MSF on Thursday morning suspended its hospital operations there, Bachmann said.

People are sleeping in the open without mosquito nets to protect against malaria and there have been reports of cholera in the area, he said.

Government forces are in control of nearby Kodok town after fighting ended there on Wednesday, Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) deputy spokesman Colonel Santo Domic Chol said.

“The SPLA is calling on their citizens to come back to their houses,” he told reporters by telephone, declining to give casualty figures. “War is war and war is ugly in any capacity ... there must be refugees and there must be those caught in the crossfire.”

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