Despite Peace Efforts S Sudan City Is ‘War Zone’



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Fighting continued on Wednesday in South Sudan’s city of Bor, a
government official said, describing it as “a war zone” where the army
and rebels are battling even as both sides have committed to peace talks
in neighboring Ethiopia.


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Bor, the capital of Jonglei state, is the center of ethnically-based
violence stemming from the political rivalry between President Salva
Kiir and ousted Vice President Riek Machar, the rebel leader accused of
mounting a failed coup attempt. More than 1,000 people have been killed
in the violence, according to the United Nations, but the fighting in
Bor is expected to increase the number of fatalities.

“There is fighting going on in Bor. It’s a war zone,” said Foreign
Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin of the city that in order to stay in
charge of the town that is just 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the
national capital of Juba.
Government troops pulled out of parts of Bor because they were concerned
about having to kill the “young boys” who fill the ranks of the rebels,
said one analyst.
“The (Sudanese military) was told to withdraw,” Edmund Yakani, the
executive director of the Juba-based group Community Empowerment for
Progress, said, citing the accounts of contacts in Bor. “They
communicated that these are young boys and we are killing them like
nothing.”
Delegates from both sides are expected to arrive in Ethiopia later on Wednesday for the start of peace talks.
In Bor, government troops face renegade forces allied with a pro-Machar
tribal militia known as the “White Army,” so called because its young
members of the Nuer tribe smear their faces with ash to keep insects
away.


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The scale of the violence in Bor has overwhelmed humanitarian workers,
and there are growing concerns the situation could deteriorate further
if the warring factions do not strike a cease-fire deal soon.

“Even with the tremendous efforts made by health partners, sanitation
conditions are still inadequate largely due to the large number of
people sheltering in United Nations bases which have insufficient space
to house these numbers,” said Abdi Aden Mohammed, the World Health
Organization’s representative in South Sudan. “Coupled with poor water
and sanitation conditions, overcrowding in the camps may create
conditions ripe for disease outbreaks.”
Although Kiir insists the fighting was sparked by a coup attempt mounted
by soldiers loyal to Machar, this account has been disputed by some
officials of the ruling party who say violence broke out when
presidential guards from Kiir’s majority Dinka tribe tried to disarm
guards from the Nuer ethnic group of Machar.
South Sudan has been plagued by ethnic tension and a power struggle
within the ruling party that escalated after Kiir dismissed Machar as
his vice president earlier this year. Machar has criticized Kiir as a
dictator and says he will contest the 2015 presidential election.
The United Nations, South Sudan’s government and other analysts say the
dispute is political at its heart, but has since taken on ethnic
dimensions. The fighting has displaced up to 180,000 people, according
to the U.N.
———
Muhumuza reported from Kampala, Uganda.


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Culled from Abcnews

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