Tag Archives: Kiir

Thousands dead in South Sudan violence, UN says

Thousands of people must have been killed in the past week of violence in South Sudan, the top UN humanitarian co-ordinator there has told the BBC.

Toby Lanzer, who is in Bentiu in northern Unity state, said it had been “a devastating week for South Sudan”.

The UN Security Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to almost double the number of peacekeepers to 12,500.

Earlier President Salva Kiir said his forces had recaptured the key town of Bor days after it was seized by rebels.

The rebels are led by Riek Machar, of the ethnic Nuer, who has been battling President Kiir, of the Dinka.

The UN also said on Tuesday that it had reports of at least three mass graves.

One was in Bentiu in the north, and two in the capital, Juba.

In a Christmas message, Mr Kiir said “innocent people have been wantonly killed”, adding: “There are now people who are targeting others because of their tribal affiliation. It will only lead to one thing and that is to turn this new nation into chaos.”

‘Palpable fear’

Mr Lanzer told the BBC’s Newshour programme: “I think it’s undeniable at this stage that there must have been thousands of people who have lost their lives.

“When I’ve looked at the hospitals in key towns and I’ve looked at the hospitals in the capital itself, the range of injuries, this is no longer a situation where we can merely say it’s hundreds of people who’ve lost their lives.”

Mr Lanzer also said that the number of people seeking shelter from the fighting was “tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands”.

He said that the tensions between different communities in South Sudan was even evident within a UN base he had just visited where some 7,500 people are seeking protection.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said: “There is a palpable fear among civilians of both Dinka and Nuer backgrounds that they will be killed on the basis of their ethnicity.”

The UN says at least 80,000 people have been displaced by the South Sudan crisis – about half of them seeking shelter with the UN.

Late on Tuesday the UN Security Council voted to increase its peacekeepers from 7,000 to 12,500, and its international police force from 900 to 1,323.

It authorised temporary transfers from missions in DR Congo, Darfur, Abyei, Ivory Coast and Liberia.

The council called for “an immediate cessation of hostilities and the immediate opening of a dialogue”.

‘Political solution’

President Kiir earlier told journalists in Juba that his forces had “retaken Bor and are now clearing whatever forces that are remaining there”.

Bor, 200km (125 miles) north of Juba, had been one of the major successes for the rebels. They are believed to still be in control of Bentiu.

Radio Tamazuj said government troops of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army had launched attacks on positions held by Nuer commander and army defector Peter Gadet on Tuesday afternoon in Bor.

Mr Kiir said there was also fighting in the town of Malakal and that his troops were “ready to capture Bentiu”.

President Kiir and Mr Machar have both said they are willing to talk.

However, Mr Machar has said his detained political allies must first be freed, while Mr Kiir says there should be no preconditions.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday said there could be “no military solution to this conflict. This is a political crisis which requires a peaceful, political solution”.

Mr Kiir has accused Mr Machar, who he sacked in July, of plotting a coup. Mr Machar denies he is trying to seize power.

Sudan suffered a 22-year civil war that left more than a million people dead before the South became independent in 2011.

BBC News – Thousands dead in South Sudan violence, UN says.

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South Sudan rebel leader ‘captures key state’

South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar says his troops have captured the key oil-producing state of Unity.

The former vice president also said on Saturday that the forces under his command fighting the government now have control of much of the country.

The political crisis began a week ago, after President Salva Kiir accused Machar of attempting a coup. Reports say at least 500 people have been killed in the violence since then.

On Friday, Kiir reportedly agreed to participate in an “unconditional dialogue” to end deadly violence in the African country.

The president made the commitment to a team of mediators sent to Juba by the African Union in an effort to end fighting in which hundreds of people have been killed, said UN Security Council President Gerard Araud.

Kiir has “apparently agreed to enter into unconditional dialogue,” Araud said after an emergency Security Council meeting on the crisis in South Sudan.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon again called for renewed peace efforts on Friday, amid rising concerns that heavy fighting between rival army factions is pushing the two-year-old nation into civil war.

“The secretary general reiterates his call for all parties to exercise restraint, and to cease hostilities,” said a statement from Ban’s office.

The UN chief urged opposition leaders “to demonstrate compromise and leadership on behalf of the Southern Sudanese people, and to resolve their personal differences through dialogue immediately.”

The fighting between troops loyal to Kiir, who is from the Dinka ethnic group, and opposition leader Riek Machar, a Nuer, erupted around Juba on December 15.

The South Sudanese president accused his arch-rival and former deputy, Machar, of attempting to topple his government, but he said the coup attempt had been foiled.

The government said on Tuesday that ten senior political figures had been arrested after the alleged coup attempt.

Machar has denied Kiir’s accusation that he had led a coup attempt.

South Sudan gained independence in July 2011 after its people overwhelmingly voted in a referendum for a split from the North.

The government in Juba is grappling with rampant corruption, unrest and conflict in the deeply impoverished but oil-rich nation, left devastated by decades of war.

PressTV – South Sudan rebel leader ‘captures key state’.